The 17-9 Xavier Musketeers will try to avenge a 65-62 home loss to Providence last month when they take on the 22-3 #11 Friars tonight at 7:00 PM EST.
Losers of four of five, the Musketeers badly need a win to maintain their NCAA Tournament profile while the Friars have won eight of nine but have failed to cover the spread in three straight.
Does value lie with the Musketeers to steady the ship or will Providence stay dominant at home?
Let's take a look at the odds via WynnBET:
Xavier vs Providence Odds, Spread and Total
- Xavier: +1.5 (-110)
- Providence: -1.5 (-110)
- Xavier: +105
- Providence: -125
- 137 (Over -110/Under -110)
Xavier vs Providence Prediction and Pick
Oh baby, I'm fired up for this one. Providence has been my favorite team to bet on all season while Xavier has been one of my favorite squads to fade. I absolutely love Friars Head Coach Ed Cooley and think they have a strong, deep roster capable of making a run in the NCAA Tournament. I'm sitting on a long-shot ticket on them to win the title and will rock with Provi until I can't anymore.
So that being said, fire up the wagons because it's a good day to be a Friar! Now, I have to admit that Providence is 0-5 against the spread (ATS) in their last five home games, but with such a modest spread we really only need them to win to get the cover barring a wild finish. And at home, they almost always win. They're 14-1 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center with their only loss being to Villanova, who is pretty darned good.
Xavier has lost three of their last four on the road and are just 4-11 ATS in their last 15 overall. Every time I watch them, I come away frustrated with how bad they are at free throws in close games. They rank 179th in free throw shooting percentage while Providence is ninth nationally in free throw rate. In a close game with a home whistle, getting to the line and knocking those shots down is crucial. This was the difference in the first contest, with Providence shooting 19 free throws to Xavier's 10 in a game that was decided by three points.
The Friars' defensive strength is on the interior, where they're 47th in defensive 2-point shooting percentage. You have to shoot well from outside like Villanova did to beat Provi at home. Xavier is decidedly not that team. They're 236th in the country in three-point shooting percentage and were just 4/18 from beyond the arc in that first matchup.
If there's a concern for my Friars, it's that senior leader Al Durham likely won't play due to a sports hernia. But they didn't have him in their last matchup against Butler either when they overcame a 19-point deficit to win in overtime. That kind of glorious comeback win is what gives a team confidence to move forward while their star sits. Between Nate Watson, Jared Bynum, Noah Horchler, and A.J. Reeves, Providence has enough depth to withstand another game without Durham.
I'm all over the Friars in this one to improve to 14-0 as a home favorite and send the Musketeers to 4-12 ATS over their last 16. Clear eyes, Friar hearts, can't lose.
Pick: Providence -1.5 (-110)
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