Cleveland State vs. Xavier Prediction and Odds for NIT Opening Round (Vikings a Slam-Dunk Bet)

Xavier has disappointed all year but have a chance at redemption in the NIT
Xavier has disappointed all year but have a chance at redemption in the NIT / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The NIT gets off and running today and we've got the 18-11 No. 2 Xavier Musketeers taking on the 20-10 No. 7 Cleveland State Vikings at 9:00 p.m. EST in the first round.

Cleveland State lost three of four to close the year, including a 15-point loss to Wright State in the Horizon League Conference Tournament. Xavier didn't fare much better, losing six of seven to conclude a disappointing season with an upset loss to Butler in the Big East Conference Tournament.

The Musketeers have only covered the spread once in the last month (1-6 record) -- can they notch a double-digit victory tonight or will the Vikings send Xavier's seniors off with another frustrating loss?

Let's take a look at the odds over at WynnBET to find some value in this NIT First Round matchup:

Cleveland State vs Xavier Odds, Spread and Total


  • Cleveland State +12 (-110)
  • Xavier -12 (-110)


  • Cleveland State: +530
  • Xavier: -805


  • 148 (Over -110/Under -110)

Cleveland State vs Xavier Prediction and Pick

Xavier has been an auto-fade for me all season. I almost don't even care who they're playing. Put me, Peter Dewey and Matt De Saro out there and I'm still probably betting on us.

The Musketeers are 5-15 ATS in their last 20 and every time I watch them, I come away frustrated. An extremely talented bunch, they just seem to falter in the biggest moments. Their horrific clutch free throw shooting has been a problem all year and was their downfall against Butler. Now we get to bet against them with a TWELVE-point cushion?? Yes please.

There's ample reason to believe the Vikings will actually win this game. They boast a strong offense ranking in the 82nd percentile in rating on the season and get to face a Musketeers defense that is in the 1st percentile in rating over their last five games. Cleveland State gets to the free throw line a bunch and is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in America, gobbling up over a third of their own misses.

Those second-chance opportunities create easy looks down low and have helped the Vikings post the 19th-best two-point shooting percentage. They're not very good on the whole defensively but are in the 99th percentile in steal rate, so they'll put pressure on Xavier ballhandlers the whole game and look for fast-break points.

It's not like the Musketeers have earned any trust either. In their last 13 games as a favorite dating back three months, Xavier is a pathetic 3-10 ATS and lost seven of them outright! This line is bananas, give me Cleveland State and a half-unit on the moneyline odds of +530. The value is just way too tasty.

Pick: Cleveland State +12 (-110) and half-unit on moneyline odds of +530

Follow all of Joe Summers' betting picks here.

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