The Sweet 16 wraps up tonight with a clash between the No. 3 seed Xavier Musketeers and the No. 2 Texas Longhorns in our latest March Madness picks. Both teams have put together strong seasons, with Xavier coming up just short in the Big East Tournament and the Longhorns upsetting Kansas to claim the Big 12 title.
March Madness odds are expecting a high-scoring contest in this Midwest Region clash as college basketball betting lines opened with a total of 149 and the Longhorns as 4-point favorites. Here are my best free college basketball betting picks and predictions for Xavier vs. Texas on March 24.
Xavier vs Texas best odds
Xavier vs Texas picks and predictions
The Xavier Musketeers are coming off a high-scoring shootout against Pittsburgh, but they also had a slower-paced contest against Kennesaw State in the opening round and combined for just 116 points with Marquette in the Big East Tournament finals.
While Xavier still has a potent offense, the team has definitely taken a step back after losing second-leading scorer Zach Freemantle (15.2 points per game on 58.5% shooting) to a season-ending injury at the end of January.
The Musketeers also rarely faced opponents as athletic as the Texas Longhorns, who do an excellent job of defending at the rim (21st in the country in efficiency per ShotQualityBets) and preventing points in transition (third). Texas has really tightened up on defense over the last few weeks and has allowed just 58.2 ppg over its last six games.
The Musketeers have also been playing harder on the defensive end of the floor and are limiting foes to 66.3 ppg on 38.6% shooting over their last four games despite facing Top-30 offenses in Creighton, Marquette, and Pittsburgh during that span.
With both teams stepping up on defense lately and almost every team struggling with outside shooting in this tourney, take the Under on a big total.
My best bet: Under 149 (-110 at DraftKings)
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Xavier vs Texas spread analysis
Texas held on to beat Penn State 71-66 in the second round of the tourney last Saturday. The Longhorns have now won six games in a row, going 5-0-1 against the spread with a pair of victories against Kansas during that span.
Despite parting ways with head coach Chris Beard in December, the Longhorns have put together a successful season under interim coach Rodney Terry. They are one of just four schools in the country that rank in the Top 20 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.
The Longhorns have four players averaging double-digits in scoring led by Marcus Carr (15.8 points and 4.0 assists per game). However, it's been Dylan Disu (9.1 ppg) who has caught on fire and is putting up 17.8 ppg and 9.0 rebounds per game in five contests since the end of the regular season.
Meanwhile, Xavier has gone 7-1 straight and 4-4 ATS in its last eight games and has been powered by a sharp-shooting offense. Sean Miller's squad is seventh in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency but ranks a modest 64th on defense.
Guards Souley Boum (16.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, on 44/41/87 shooting splits) and Colby Jones (15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg) are perimeter threats while Jack Nunge (14.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is a force in the paint.
Both of these teams have been efficient inside the arc, with Xavier ranking 36th in the country in 2-point percentage (54.1%) and Texas just behind at 54%.
Xavier vs Texas Over/Under analysis
Both of these teams prefer to push the pace, with the Musketeers ranking 42nd in the country in average length of possession on offense (16.3 seconds) and the Longhorns coming in at 60th (16.6 seconds).
That, combined with Xavier ranking sixth in the country in scoring against Division 1 foes (81.2 ppg) and Texas putting up 77.8 ppg, has resulted in a lofty total of 149 for this contest.
That's interesting when you consider how profitable Unders have been so far in the tourney, cashing in 67.3% of all games (35 of 52). Sightlines at these neutral sites seem to be affecting teams in this tourney, with 3-point shooting looking abysmal across the board and neither of these sides takes many long-range attempts.
While the Musketeers are extremely efficient from 3-point range (and defend poorly at the arc), they rarely take shots from deep and sit just 320th in the country in 3-point rate (31.3%). The Longhorns also prefer to shoot closer to the hoop and are just 262nd in 3-point rate (34.7%), with that number dropping to 29.3% in their last three games.
With these teams doing their best work closer to the basket, points will likely come in at a steadier pace.
Xavier vs Texas betting trend to know
The Under is 7-0 in the Longhorns' last seven games overall. Find more college basketball betting trends for Xavier vs Texas.
Xavier vs Texas game info
|Location:||T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO|
|Date:||Friday, March 24, 2023|
|Tip-off:||9:45 p.m. ET|