NCAA Tournament Elite Eight betting preview and odds: Xavier vs. Gonzaga

Xavier Musketeers vs Gonzaga Bulldogs (-8.5, 145.5)

 Game to be played at SAP Center, San Jose, California

Top-seeded Gonzaga and 11th-seeded Xavier are both shooting to reach the Final Four for the first time in school history when they meet in Saturday’s West Region final at San Jose, Calif. Each school is also part of the Elite Eight for just the third time while the Musketeers are striving to become just the fourth 11th seed to reach a Final Four.

Xavier closed the game with a 9-0 run to post a 73-71 upset victory over second-seeded Arizona on Thursday and senior guard Malcolm Bernard feels his team is ready to join LSU (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011) as 11 seeds to crash the Final Four. “We worked so hard, not only in the offseason but throughout the year battling adversity,” Bernard said in the postgame press conference. “and I just didn’t think it was time for our season to end.” There is certainly more pressure on the Bulldogs as the school’s inability to reach a Final Four has been frequently brought up during their best-ever campaign. “First of all, I don’t know that I have a monkey on my back,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after a 61-58 victory over fourth-seeded West Virginia. “I certainly don’t wake up with one or walk around with one. So I don’t think these guys think I have one. … It would be phenomenal to get these guys, this team that I love deeply, the experience to go to a Final Four.”

TV: 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS 
 
LINE HISTORY: The Bulldogs hit the board as 8.5-point chalk against the Cinderella Musketeers and as of Friday afternoon that number hasn’t moved.  The total opened at 145.5 and like the spread has yet to move off that number. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

 

WHAT SHARPS SAY: Check back later for Covers Experts analysis.

WHAT BOOKS SAY: Check back later for sportsbook action report.

INJURY REPORT:

Xavier – G Edmond Sumner (Out For Season, Knee)

Gonzaga – C Jacob Larsen (Out For Season, Knee) 

MATCHUP CHART:

 

ABOUT XAVIER: The Musketeers are led by red-hot junior guard Trevon Bluiett, who scored 25 points against Arizona and is averaging 25 in the NCAA tourney to raise his season-mark to 18.3 with 88 3-pointers. Bernard (6.5 average) scored a career-high 15 against the Wildcats and junior power forward Sean O’Mara (6.3) scored the tiebreaking inside basket with 44.1 seconds to play. Junior guard J.P. Macura contributes 13.9 points to go with 60 3-pointers for a team that has made its impressive postseason dash despite losing star sophomore point guard Edmond Sumner (averages of 15 points and five assists) to a season-ending knee injury in late January.

ABOUT GONZAGA: Shooting guard Jordan Mathews, who averages 10.7 points, drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 57.3 seconds remaining in a victory over West Virginia that also featured the Bulldogs limiting the Mountaineers to 26.7-percent shooting from the field. Junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss leads Gonzaga in scoring (16.5) and assists (4.7) but is a meager 12-of-42 shooting in three NCAA Tournament games. The Bulldogs outrebound opponents by 7.4 per game and rely on the sturdy interior trio of senior center Przemek Karnowski (12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds), junior power forward Johnathan Williams (10.1 points, team-best 6.6 boards) and freshman reserve 7-footer Zach Collins (10-point average, 5.7 rebounds).

CHEERLEADER BATTLE:
 
 

TRENDS:

* Musketeers are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Musketeers are 15-2-1 ATS in their last 18 NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
* Bulldogs are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.
* Under is 5-1-1 in Musketeers last 7 overall.
* Under is 4-0 in Bulldogs last 4 vs. Big East.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

COVERS CONSENSUS:  View full consensus data here.

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