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2017 March Madness Sweet 16 – Arizona Wildcats vs. Xavier Musketeers Predictions, Picks and NCAA Basketball Betting Preview

2017 March Madness Sweet 16 – Arizona Wildcats vs. Xavier Musketeers Predictions, Picks and NCAA Basketball Betting Preview


No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 11 Xavier Preview

Where: SAP Center – San Jose, California

When: Thursday, March 23, 2017, 10:09 PM ET

Line: Arizona Wildcats (-7.5) vs. Xavier Musketeers (+7.5); total: 144.5 – view all NCAA Basketball lines

TV Broadcast: TBS

Writer’s Prediction: Arizona Wildcats (-7.5)


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Betting on the Arizona Wildcats (-7.5)

No. 2 Arizona had a tough second-round assignment in St. Mary’s but the Wildcats weathered an early storm to come away 69-60 winners. They comfortably covered the 4.5-point spread, and are now an impressive 5-0-1 ATS in their last six games.

The Wildcats’ dynamic duo of freshman Lauri Markkanen and sophomore Allonzo Trier once again did the heavy lifting against the Gaels. Markkanen had 16 points and 11 rebounds continue his very good tournament. He’s averaging 18 points and 8.5 rebounds through the first two games. Meanwhile, Trier has also been solid, putting up 16 and 6 through two rounds.

However, Arizona will need an all-around effort from Trier, as well as the Wildcats’ other wings as they go up against Xavier’s red-hot Trevon Bluiett. But if there’s a team with the combination of length, athleticism and discipline to give Bluiett some problems, it’s the Wildcats.

Xavier’s supporting cast has been unusually productive in the tournament, but Arizona’s secondary players have the more proven track record of production. Dusan Ristic and Kadeem Allen are both averaging double-figures on the season, and have each scored 10 or more points in the team’s first two tourney games.

Betting on the Xavier Musketeers (+7.5)

No. 11 Xavier has been this year’s surprise package through two rounds. The Musketeers have won both of their games pretty convincingly. They beat Maryland 76-65 in the first round, and then absolutely smoked No. 3 Florida State, 91-66. After going on their disastrous six-game losing skid, the Musketeers are now an impressive 6-0 ATS in their last six games.

Trevon Bluiett has unsurprisingly been at the forefront of Xavier’s extraordinary run. The junior is averaging 25 points and 5 rebounds through two games in the tournament, and has more than made up for Edmond Sumner’s absence.

However, it’s been the bench duo of Kaiser Gates and Sean O’Mara that’s been the team’s unsung heroes. The two have averaged a total of 12 points and 7 rebounds this season, but they’ve ramped up their production to 27 points and 9 boards per game in the tourney.

Bluiett, Gates, and O’Mara were all able to work fairly effectively despite all of Florida State’s outstanding length. That performance was very promising and bodes well for their chances against the similarly long Wildcats.

Xavier should fancy its matchup with Arizona in general. The Wildcats don’t shoot a lot of 3s, nor do they force a lot of turnovers, so they shouldn’t really be able to exploit two of Xavier’s biggest weaknesses.

Writer’s Prediction

Xavier’s bench unit falls back down to earth, as Arizona (-7.5) goes on to win and cover.

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Brad
Written by Brad

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