The Baylor Bears and the Xavier Musketeers have a date in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen, with a spot in the Elite Eight up for grabs. Is it Baylor or Xavier that comes through for us on Friday evening?
The NCAA basketball odds for this intriguing matchup have
the Bears favored by six points at pretty much every major basketball betting site. The matchup's total, for those interested, can be found at 139.5 or 140 depending on the
sportsbook. The winner here plays the victor of Kentucky/Indiana.
Baylor has definitely elevated their play come tournament
time, covering in two of their three Big 12 tournament matchups and in both of
their NCAA tournament games thus far.
The first half of their round two encounter with Colorado
was back and forth, but in the end the Bears, led by sharpshooter Brady Heslip,
had too much firepower for the Pac-12 tournament champions.
Heslip nailed an amazing nine treys in the 80-63 win and
finished with a game-high 27 points, while backcourt mate Pierre Jackson had 15
points, 10 assists and five steals. The performance of the guards made up for
another shaky effort from Perry Jones III, who scored just seven points in the
Xavier also had to withstand an early battle with Lehigh,
but the Musketeers prevailed for the 70-58 win and a berth in the Sweet
Down by as many as 15 in the first half, Xavier kept their
composure and kept feeding the ball inside to Kenny Frease, who picked the
perfect time to have a career game. Frease recorded 25 points (11-of-13 FG) and
12 rebounds and the Musketeers also got 21 points out of Tu Holloway.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Baylor
presents a much more difficult matchup for the Musketeers here in the next
There aren't a lot of teams out that as talented as the
Bears, but I still don't fully trust them. Xavier will make this a very
physical game and they'll try to establish Frease down low again. Baylor is
athletic and long inside but lack strength and physicality.
The Musketeeers also have a strong guard duo that should be
able to keep Heslip and Jackson from dominating proceedings again. No chance
Heslip drains nine threes against a great defensive tandem of Holloway and
Lyons on Friday.
A likely date with Kentucky awaits
Holloway has been making some huge shots and has the perfect
mentality for March Madness. He should be able to at least match what Jackson
is able to do offensively.
Sure, I'm a tad worried about Xavier's versatile guard Dez
Wells and whether or not he'll be healthy enough to play. He suffered a toe
injury against Lehigh and will likely be a game-time decision.
Even so, Baylor is not particularly known for their
toughness and that's what Xavier is going to bring to the table. The Musketeers
are going to try and make this an ugly game and I think they'll succeed. Given
the Bears' talent and athleticism all over the court, they have to
succeed or they'll be going home.
I'm picking Xavier to give Baylor a run for their money and
therefore will be backing the underdogs to cash as one of my NCAA basketball
FREE Pick: Xavier Musketeers +6
Musketeers are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall
Musketeers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games
Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
Bears are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games
OVER is 5-1 in Baylor's last 6 games overall