2017 NCAA Tournament
West Regional Final
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #11 Xavier Musketeers
Saturday, March 25, 2017, 5:09 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
SAP Center – San Jose, California
Opening Line: Gonzaga -8 1/2
Current Line: Gonzaga -8
Opening Total: 145 1/2
Current Total: 145
Opening Money Line: Gonzaga -380 / Xavier +315
Current Money Line: Gonzaga -390 / Xavier +320
The 24-13 Xavier Musketeers take on the 35-1 Gonzaga Bulldogs with a trip to the Final Four nest week in Glendale, Arizona on the line Saturday in San Jose. The Bulldogs are the #1 seed in the West Region and the Musketeers are the #11 seed. The winner will face the East champion either #4 Florida or #7 South Carolina in the Final Four next week. Gonzaga leads the series 3-1 against Xavier, including a 72-65 win in Cincinnati in 2011. The Zags won the only previous NCAA Tournament meeting against Xavier in the 2006 First round in Salt Lake City.
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 then upset #2 seed Arizona 73-71 Thursday night. Xavier is in the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time and has only missed once since 2001. Xavier is in the Elite Eight for the third time and first since 2008, but the Musketeers ahve never made the Final Four.
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 18-18 ATS and the total is 16-19-1 this season. Xavier was a 7.5 point underdog against Arizona and the total was 144.
Gonzaga is coached by Mark Few. The Bulldogs won the West Coast Conference regular season title with a 17-1 record and beat rival St, Mary’s 74-56 in the WCC Championship game in Las Vegas. Gonzaga beat #16 seed South Dakota State 66-46 in the first round and #8 Northwestern 79-73 in the second round, both in Salt Lake City. Gonzaga beat #4 seed West Virginia 61-58 in the Sweet 16 Thursday night. Gonzaga is making their 20th trip to the tournament including every year since 1999. The Bulldogs are in the Elite Eight for the third time but have never made the Final Four.
Gonzaga lost at home in the regular season finale to BYU 79-71. The Bulldogs have home wins over San Diego State, Washington, Akron, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary’s, Portland, San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Pacific. Gonzaga has road wins over Pacific, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Portland, Pepperdine, BYU, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary’s, and San Diego, plus neutral site wins over Quinnipiac, Florida and Iowa State in Orlando, Arizona in Los Angeles, Tennessee in Nashville, plus Pacific, Santa Clara and St. Mary’s in Las Vegas. Gonzaga is 22-9-2 ATS and the total is 16-17 this season. The Bulldogs were 3 point favorites against West Virginia and the total was 150.
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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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Gonzaga is outscoring teams 84-61 this season. The Bulldogs are #14 or better in both categories. Gonzaga is shooting 51.2% from the field and 37.4% from 3 point range. The Bulldogs are #2 nationally in field goal percentage. Gonzaga makes 72.7% of their free throws. Bulldog opponents are shooting 36.7% from the field and 29.9% from 3 point range. Gonzaga is #2 nationally in field goal defense and #7 in three point defense. The Bulldogs average 40.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.4 per game. Gonzaga averages 15.6 assists, 11.3 turnovers, 7.1 steals, and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.7 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.
Nigel Williams-Goss averages 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Przemek Karnowski averages 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Jordan Mathews averages 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Zach Collins averages 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Johnathan Williams averages 10 points and 6 rebounds per game. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, and Killian Tillie will also get minutes. Center Jacob Larsen is out for the season with a knee injury.
Xavier is 7-0 ATS overall, 6-0 after a cover, 5-0 after a straight up win, against teams with winning records, and as an underdog, 15-2-1 as an NCAA tournament underdog, 24-5-1 in NCAA Tournament games, 4-1 in non-conference games, 30-10-1 as a neutral site games, and 19-7 as a neutral site underdog.
Gonzaga is 6-0-1 ATS against Big East teams, 4-1-1 as a favorite of between 7-12.5 points, 20-6-2 against teams with winning records, 11-4 in Saturday games, 19-7-2 after a win, 5-2-1 in non-conference games, 35-15-2 overall, 33-16-2 as a favorite, 1-3-1 in neutral site games, and as a neutral site favorite, 0-3-1 in NCAA Tournament games, and as a tournament favorite.
Xavier is playing with house money as they weren’t expected to be here. They lost six of their last seven games in the regular season heading into the post season. All of the pressure is on Gonzaga as they only lost one game in the regular season. Both teams are trying to get to the Final Four for the first time. I think this will be a close game, but I like Gonzaga to win in a low scoring game.