Providence Friars at Xavier Musketeers Betting Preview

Providence Friars at Xavier Musketeers Betting Preview

The biggest game in college basketball Wednesday night might be the Big East showdown between the no. 21 Xavier Musketeers and the no. 17 Providence Friars. The Friars currently sit atop the Big East standings as the only team with just one loss in league play. However, the Musketeers are favored by 8.5 points at home on Wednesday, with the over/under set at 139 points.

Xavier was close to perfect during their non-conference schedule, losing just once while racking up some impressive wins. However, the Musketeers are just 4-3 in Big East play, beating teams in the bottom half of the standings but losing to Villanova twice. Xavier is also coming off a loss to Marquette, making the Musketeers eager to get back on track.

As for the Friars, they’ve largely flown under the radar on their way to being 16-2. Oddly enough, Providence’s only Big East loss was a 32-point loss against Marquette. But the Friars have responded with three straight wins and are moving in the right direction.

Missing Piece

The biggest reason the Friars are an underdog on Wednesday is they have been without guard A.J. Reeves for the last four games. The senior is Providence’s second-best outside shooter and third-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game. Without him, the Friars don’t have much depth in the backcourt behind point guard Jared Bynum and Indiana transfer Al Durham, who is scoring 13.3 points per game but isn’t a strong outside shooter.

Of course, Providence’s leading scorer is big man Nate Watson, who is averaging 14.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The frontcourt is also led by Noah Horchler, who shoots close to 43% from the perimeter and leads the team with 8.3 rebounds per game. The Friars also have good depth in the frontcourt with Justin Minaya and Ed Croswell, who are both strong rebounders and capable scorers.

The X-Factors

With six players who average at least eight points per game but nobody who averages more than 12 points, one could say that most of Xavier’s roster is an X-factor every game. Iowa transfer Jack Nunge is the leading scorer at 12.3 points per game, although the seven-footer has failed to score in double figures in three of his last five games. Likewise, the Xavier frontcourt hasn’t gotten the production it expected from Zach Freemantle, who averaged 16.1 points per game last season but just 8.2 points per game this year.

On the bright side, the Musketeers have a deep and diverse backcourt. Paul Scruggs is the veteran point guard, while Nate Johnson and Adam Kunkel are strong outside shooters. The Musketeers also have Colby Jones, who is a tough and physical guard that averages 11.4 points and a team-high eight rebounds per game.

Strength vs Weakness

Both teams have clear strengths in this matchup, as Xavier has the deeper backcourt while Providence has the more athletic frontcourt. Of course, those strengths should balance each other out over 40 minutes. This game figures to be closer than the spread would suggest, so bet on Providence to beat the spread on the road.

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