Game to be played at SAP Center, San Jose, California
After knocking off two higher seeds in the first two rounds, Xavier aims for another upset in Thursday’s Sweet 16 as the 11th-seeded Musketeers face No. 2 Arizona in an NCAA Tournament West Region matchup in San Jose, Calif. Xavier is back in the regional semifinals for the second time in three years following victories over Maryland and Florida State, while red-hot Arizona won 11 of its last 12 games.
Former Xavier coach Sean Miller is in his eighth season at Arizona, which defeated Oregon to claim the Pac-12 tournament title and advanced to the Sweet 16 following victories over North Dakota and Saint Mary’s. Arizona freshman guard Rawle Alkins broke his right index finger in the first half of Saturday’s 69-60 victory over the Gaels but returned to action fewer than eight minutes later and helped the Wildcats recover from an early deficit. Alkins started all but one game this season and expects to be in the lineup Thursday against Xavier, which began March in the midst of a six-game losing streak but is shooting 50 percent in postseason play. “Our guys, despite all the adversity they’ve been hit with and the social media that tells them how bad they are and how poor they are, they stayed with it and believed in themselves and our coaching staff,” coach Chris Mack told reporters. “It’s a credit to them, and I’m just really proud of them.”
TV: 10:09 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: The Wildcats hit the board as 7.5-point favorites and were quickly bet down to a converted touchdown. However, they have since moved back to the opening number. The total meanwhile, has slowly and continually been bet up since opening at 143.5. The current number is 145. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: Check back later for sportsbook action report.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: Check back later for Covers Experts analysis.
ABOUT XAVIER: The Musketeers struggled initially after point guard Edmond Sumner tore an ACL on Jan. 30, but junior guard Trevon Bluiett sparked the team’s postseason surge by averaging 25 points on 51.7 percent shooting in the NCAA Tournament. Forwards Kaiser Gates, Tyrique Jones and Sean O’Mara combined for 38 points against Florida State as Xavier controlled the paint against the bigger Seminoles. Gates is averaging 12.5 points and shooting 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the NCAA Tournament for the Musketeers, who will be tested again by Arizona’s imposing front line.
ABOUT ARIZONA: Center Lauri Markkanen and guard Allonzo Trier combined for 30 points and 17 rebounds against Saint Mary’s as the Wildcats took control late by slowing down Gaels center Jock Landale and shooting 59.1 percent in the second half. Trier, who missed the season’s first 19 games due to a PED suspension, scored all 14 of his points against the Gaels in the final 17 minutes and has become a more assertive scorer in recent weeks. The Wildcats’ deep frontcourt includes 6-11 Chance Comanche and 7-foot Dusan Ristic, who averaged 12.5 points and four rebounds against North Dakota and Saint Mary’s.
* Xavier is 6-0 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Arizona is 5-0-1 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in Xavier’s last six games overall.
* Over is 4-1 in Arizona’s last five games overall.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus thinks 7.5-points is too many to lay with Arizona as 61 percent of wagers are on Xavier to cover. In regards to the total, the public likes the Over in this matchup, with 69 percent of bet on it. Click here for complete consensus analysis.