The Xavier Musketeers will try to improve on their opening-round performance when they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second round of our March Madness picks on Sunday.
No. 11 Pittsburgh turned March Madness odds on their head Friday, defeating Iowa State 59-41. Meanwhile, No. 3 Xavier had a tougher-than-expected time against the Kennesaw State Owls but walked away with a 72-67 victory.
We’ll break down what to expect from this matchup in our free college basketball picks and predictions for Pittsburgh vs. Xavier on March 19.
Pittsburgh vs Xavier best odds
Pittsburgh vs Xavier picks and predictions
Both Pittsburgh and Xavier did a great job of creating offense during the regular season. The Musketeers were particularly tough to stop, scoring 82.1 points per game on 50% shooting, However, the Panthers held their own as well, putting up an average of 75.9 points.
The biggest outlier for Pittsburgh is how well they performed defensively on Thursday. Against Iowa State, the Cyclones shot just 14/60 (23%) from the field.
Lately, Xavier hasn’t been as dynamic on offense either. In the Big East Tournament, the Musketeers scored just 51 points in a loss to Marquette. Xavier recovered a bit in the win over Kennesaw State, but its 72-point output was still well below its season average.
After a season of hitting the Over consistently, both of these teams are now trending toward low totals for the biggest games of the season. But even if you’re not buying into these short-term trends, there are other reasons to feel like Sunday’s total is a bit too high for comfort.
Depending on where you look, you can get the Over/Under at anywhere from 151.5 to 152.5. That would be fairly reasonable for the way Xavier played in the regular season, as the Musketeers averaged a total of 156.6. Adjust for the stiffer competition and Pittsburgh’s reasonable defense, and the number is on the mark.
However, the Panthers typically play far below that number, averaging a total of just 145.2 points. There’s also the fact that Xavier actually plays reasonably well on the defensive end, with KenPom rating the Musketeers at No. 72 in the country in defensive efficiency.
Even with Xavier having played in plenty of shootouts this season, there’s nothing suggesting that will happen against Pittsburgh on Sunday. I’m taking the Under and expecting to feel comfortable in the final minutes of the game.
My best bet: Under 152.5 (-110 at PointsBet)
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Pittsburgh vs Xavier spread analysis
Xavier opened Sunday’s game as a five-point favorite over Pittsburgh. That’s still the consensus total, though some books are posting numbers of Xavier -4.5 or -5.5 with various odds, so be sure to shop around no matter which side of the line you intend to take.
Both teams have been quite good against the spread this year. Pittsburgh has gone an impressive 24-10-1 ATS on the season, though Xavier has also been fairly good for bettors with an 18-16-1 ATS record.
Pittsburgh’s two wins in the tournament have given the Panthers some momentum heading into this matchup. However, they’ll have to score more than 60 points to have any chance of success against a Xavier team that rarely gets held under 70 points unless things go horribly wrong.
There’s also the fact that the Musketeers are simply the better team. Even without Zach Freemantle, Xavier has been a Top-20 quality team in the country, and rates out significantly better than the Panthers.
With a fairly modest spread, I’m going to take Xavier. I know it feels dangerous to bet against Pittsburgh right now, but this is a game the Musketeers should win reasonably comfortably. I’m particularly interested in a line of -4.5, provided you don’t have to pay an extreme premium to get that number.
Pittsburgh vs Xavier Over/Under analysis
The total for this game opened at 153.5 points, but the public has been betting that number down. Most sites now list an Over/Under somewhere between 151.5 and 152.5 as the main number.
These are two teams that have been mostly playing to the Over this season. It's 21-14 in Pittsburgh games and is 21-13-1 in contests that Xavier has partook in. It’s no surprise that both teams can score, yet oddsmakers had trouble adjusting to that fact throughout the season.
The big numbers may be coming to an end in the NCAA Tournament, however.
Pittsburgh has gone Under in each of its first two matchups, putting up totals of less than 120 on both occasions. Meanwhile, Xavier has played three straight games to the Under, with none of those games hitting a total of more than 142. The Musketeers have also only played to a total of 152 or higher twice in their last 10 games.
There’s nothing about this game that suggests it will turn into a shootout, no matter how much offense these teams have shown at times during the regular season. I’m recommending the Under in this game and would be comfortable taking it even if the total drops another point or two before tipoff.
Pittsburgh vs Xavier betting trend to know
The Under is 5-0 in Pittsburgh’s last five NCAA Tournament games. Find more college basketball betting trends for Pittsburgh vs. Xavier.
Pittsburgh vs Xavier game info
|Location:||Ball Arena, Denver, CO|
|Date:||Sunday, March 19, 2023|
|Tip-off:||12:10 p.m. ET|