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Xavier at UMASS
When you dig into an NCAA hoops card as a handicapper, you just don't know what you'll find. One might think that the more games there are on the board, the more plays you'd find. Sometimes it works that way. But sometimes, you'll have a decent sized card like today, and struggle to find anything worth playing. Such is the case today. But we did find one worthy of being our play of the day.
Xavier heads north tonight to take on UMASS in an Atlantic 10 Game. As this is being written, money is coming in on UMASS taking this game from an opener of -9.5 down to -8. even -7.5 in some spots. That plays into our hands as we like Xavier here. The further this line drops, the better.
This is another game in college hoops between the haves and the have nots. Xavier sits on top of the A-10 at 7-1 in conference and 15-6 on the year with Temple, Charlotte and Rhode Island nipping at their heels. UMASS sits in the basement at 2-5 in conference and 8-13 on the year. UMASS is looking to get this season over with. Xavier has their sights set on the "Big Dance".
No room for error here for Xavier with the A-10 race being so close. We don't mind laying points with teams that can put the ball in the bucket like Xavier can. They lead the A-10 in points scored averaging almost 80 points per game. They also lead the league in 3 point shooting knocking down almost 40 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which always comes in handy when laying a few points as leads can be extended quickly. They are also the 2nd best shooting team in the A-10 at 46.5%.
One could argue that UMASS has trouble hitting the side of a barn when it comes to shooting this year. Last game they shot 34 percent and 14 percent from 3 point land. Against Baylor, two games ago, they shot 24%, albeit on the road. UMASS hasn't been able to compete when it steps up in class. Meanwhile Xavier has gone toe to toe with some big name programs this year. One example would be almost knocking off Wake Forest on the road. It took a couple of overtimes before Xavier finally went down, by 4.
There's no disputing the talent gap here. If these two teams were to play 10 times on a neutral floor, Xavier likely wins 9 out of 10 by a wide margin. Providing Xavier doesn't overlook UMASS or play down to the level of competition, they should be able to put them away. There's plenty of motivation for Xavier to be fully focused. They'd like to crack the Top 25 and also need to keep pace with the A-10 teams nipping at their heels.
We have Xavier winning this game by 16 points, 84-68 which gives us plenty of cushion laying -8. Xavier -8