2017 NCAA Tournament
West Regional Semifinals
#2 Arizona Wildcats vs #11 Xavier Musketeers
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 10:09 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
SAP Center – San Jose, California
Opening Line: Arizona -7 1/2
Current Line: Arizona -7 1/2
Opening Total: 143 1/2
Current Total: 147
Opening Money Line: Arizona -350 / Xavier +290
Current Money Line: Arizona -345 / Xavier +285
The 32-4 Arizona Wildcats take on the 23-13 Xavier Musketeers Thursday in the West regional semifinals in San Jose. Arizona is the #2 seed in the region and Xavier is the highest seed remaining in the tournament at #11. The winner will play either #1 Gonzaga or #4 West Virginia in the Regional Final Saturday. Arizona won the only previous meeting against Xavier 68-60 in the 2015 Sweet 16 in Los Angeles.
Xavier is coached by Chris Mack. The Musketeers finished seventh in the Big East with a 9-9 record. Xavier made it all the way to the Big East semifinals but lost to Creighton 76-72 in New York City. The Musketeers upset #6 Maryland 76-65 in the first round and #3 seed Florida State 91-66 in the second round, both in Orlando. Xavier is in the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time and has only missed once since 2001. Xavier is in the Sweet 16 for the eighth time and sixth in the last ten seasons.
Xavier has road losses at Baylor Colorado, Villanova, Butler, Cincinnati, Providence, Marquette, and Seton Hall, plus a neutral site loss to Creighton in New York. The Musketeers have home losses to Creighton, Villanova, Butler and Marquette. Xavier has home wins over Lehigh, Buffalo, Northern Iowa, North Dakota State, Utah, Wake Forest, Providence, St. John’s, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and DePaul. Xavier has neutral site wins over Missouri, Clemson and Northern Iowa in Orlando, plus DePaul and Butler in New York City. The Musketeers have road wins over Georgetown, St. John’s, Creighton, and DePaul. Xavier is 17-18 ATS and the total is 16-19 this season. Xavier was a seven point underdog against Florida State last Saturday.
Arizona is coached by Sean Miller. Miller coached Xavier for six seasons before taking the Arizona job. The Wildcats tied for the Pac 12 regular season title with Oregon at 16-2. The Wildcats beat Oregon 83-80 in the Pac 12 Championship game in Las Vegas. Arizona beat #15 seed North Dakota 100-82 in the first round and #7 St. Mary’s 69-60 in the second round Saturday, both in Salt Lake City. Arizona is in the NCAA Tournament for the 34th time and in the Sweet 16 for the 19th time. Like Xavier this is the sixth time in the last ten seasons Arizona is in the Sweet 16.
Arizona has neutral site losses to Butler in Las Vegas and Gonzaga in Los Angeles, plus a road loss to Oregon and a home loss to UCLA. The Wildcats have home wins over CS-Bakersfield, Texas Southern, UC-Irvine, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Arizona State, Washington State, Washington, Stanford, Cal, and USC. Arizona has neutral site wins over Michigan State in Honolulu, Santa Clara, Colorado, UCLA and Oregon (all in Las Vegas), plus Texas A&M in Houston. The Wildcats have road wins over Missouri, Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State, Washington and Arizona State. Arizona is 19-14-3 ATS and the total is 17-18-1 this season. The Wildcats were -4.5 point favorites against St. Mary’s and the total was 136.
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Xavier is outscoring teams 75-71 this season. Xavier is shooting 45.8% from the field and 34.9% from 3 point range. The Musketeers make 69.2% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 44.9% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. Xavier averages 37.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.5 per game. Xavier averages 14.5 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 5.9 steals and 2.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 13.4 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 6.4 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.
Trevon Bluiett averages 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Edmond Sumner averages 15 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is out for the season with a knee injury. J.P. Macura averages 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. RaShid Gaston averages 7.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Malcolm Bernard averages 6.4 points, 4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Five other players average at least 11 minutes a game.
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Arizona is outscoring teams 77-66 this season. The Wildcats are #39 in points allowed nationally. Arizona is shooting 47.8% from the field and 39.6% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #34 nationally in both categories. Arizona makes 76.3% of their free throws and is #21 nationally in that category. Opponents are shooting 41.8% from the field and 30.9% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #16 in three point defense. Arizona averages 36.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.6. The Wildcats are #12 in rebounds allowed nationally. Arizona averages 13.8 assists, 11.3 turnovers, 5.4 steals and 3.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.8 assists, 11.7 turnovers, 4.8 steals and 3 blocks per game.
Allonzo Trier averages 17.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Lauri Markkanen averages 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Rawle Alkins averages 11.1 points, 5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He is probable with a finger injury. Dusan Ristic averages 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kadeem Allen and Kobi Simmons both average at least 8.8 points a game. Dylan Smith and Talbott Denny are both out for the season.
Xavier is 6-0 ATS overall, 5-0 after a cover, 4-0 after a straight up win, against teams with winning records, and as an underdog, 14-2-1 as an NCAA Tournament underdog, 23-5-1 in NCAA Tournament games, 17-4 in neutral site games, 29-10-1 as an underdog, 20-7 after scoring more than 90 points, 13-5 in Thursday games, 17-7 in non-conference games, 36-17 after a straight up win of more than 20 points, and 2-5 against Pac 12 teams.
Arizona is 5-0-1 ATS overall and in neutral site games, 4-0-1 in Thursday games, after a straight up win and against teams with winning records, 3-0-1 as a favorite, after a cover and in non-conference games, 5-2 as an NCAA Tournament favorite of between 7-12.5 points, 2-5-1 as an NCAA Tournament favorite, 2-5 against Big East teams, and 2-6-1 in NCAA Tournament games.
Before beating DePaul in the regular season finale, Xavier had lost six straight games. So it is somewhat surprising that they are making such a run in the NCAA Tournament especially without Sumner. They have beaten Butler, Maryland and Florida State during this run. Still, even as talented as those teams are, they aren’t on the level of Arizona. I like the Wildcats to end Xavier’s Cinderella run by pulling away.