Arizona Wildcats vs. Xavier Musketeers
Date and Time: Thursday, March 23, 2017, 10:09 p.m. ET
Location: SAP Center, San Jose, CA
College Basketball Odds: Arizona -7.5, O/U 144.5
Arizona vs. Xavier TV Coverage: TBS
College Basketball Odds
Arizona may have ripped through its non-conference schedule, but the Wildcats’ limits were exposed without Allonzo Trier in the lineup. While Zona defeated all the teams it was supposed to, it couldn’t beat any of the big boys it faced, losing to both Butler and Gonzaga and barely squeaking by Michigan State.
This Wildcats team has been a lot better with Trier though. Although that hasn’t shown up in the team’s ATS record, Arizona has only lost twice with him in the lineup and won both the PAC-12 regular season and conference titles. Trier gives them the dynamic guard play that they lacked earlier in the season and can score when need be.
Xavier has to be happy to be here after many counted the Musketeers out following the loss of Edmond Sumner for the season. He was a part of their Big Three and the most efficient of them too. There was also the question of who would set the rest of the team up after he got injured as he led the team in assists too.
The Musketeers shot the lights out against Florida State in a 25-point victory on Saturday and it will be hard to replicate that performance. Xavier hit 55.6 percent of its field goals and 64.7 percent of its three pointers and while its guards are good, they will come back to Earth a bit against Arizona.
Player to Watch
Trier has received the majority of the headlines since his return, but the most difficult player to guard on the court is Lauri Markkanen. One of the knocks on Markkanen has been his lack of physicality and there are times he is a little hesitant to bang down low with the big boys. However, when he decides to put his head down and grind, he becomes a nightmare for opposing players to stop.
Against St. Mary’s he wanted to play on the perimeter, but had to get down low in order to stop the Gaels’ big men. In the first half that didn’t work out well for Arizona as he got outmuscled in the paint as St. Mary’s took a lead into halftime. However, he refocused in the second half and came out like a new player, doing the dirty work and finishing with a double-double.
That’s the Markkanen that will need to show up against Xavier. The Musketeers must have a rebounding advantage in order to get past the Wildcats and that means Markkanen has to perform well in the paint.
Arizona vs. Xavier Free Picks
Markkanen is a huge factor, but Trier also has the ability to take this game over. He is more physical than Xavier’s guards and if he goes strong to the hole, they won’t be able to stop him. For as good as Trevon Bluiett can be, he doesn’t have the frame to square up against Trier and it will be tough for Xavier to stop him.
Look for Arizona to get the win and the cover here. This team is just simply more talented than Xavier is and while the Musketeers did great to get this far, it’s time to come to an end. There’s no way they can shoot as well they did against FSU again and that means curtains for their season.
Arizona vs. Xavier ATS Pick: Lay the chalk with Arizona
Arizona vs. Xavier Score Prediction: Arizona 77, Xavier 65