#16 Xavier Musketeers vs #11 Marquette Golden Eagles (2/15 @ 7:00 PM EST)
Spread: Marquette -5.5
Money Line: Xavier +195 / Marquette -230
Overview and Betting Info
On Wednesday, the #16 Xavier Musketeers (19-6) will head to the Good Land to take on the #11 Marquette Golden Eagles (20-6). These two teams played in January, with Xavier winning the 80-76 game. Marquette currently leads the Big East, but Xavier sits second by just a half-game.
Xavier is 13-11-1 against the spread this season and has covered just two of their last seven games. They’ve gone over the total 17 times, doing so in four of their previous six games.
Marquette is 17-8-1 versus the spread and has covered seven of their last ten games. They have gone over the total 15 times, including three of their previous five.
Xavier enters Wednesday’s matchup after a disappointing loss to Butler on Friday. After winning eleven games (including UConn and Marquette), the Musketeers have cooled off by losing three of their next seven. Their offense is the one of the best in the country, ranking ninth in scoring (83.2 PPG), first in assist (20.6 APG), fourth in field goal percentage (50.03%), and second in three-point percentage (40.13%). As good as the offense has been, the defense has cost them games. They rank ninth in the Big East in opponent scoring (75.7 PPG) and field goal percentage (44.9%), tenth in three-point percentage (36.9%) and blocks (7.4 BPG), and eighth in steals (7.4 SPG). Xavier has struggled on the road of late, losing three of their last four.
The Musketeers are led by their top four scorers, Souley Boum (16.12 PPG, 4.9 APG, 1.3 SPG), Zach Freemantle (15.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG), Colby Jones (15.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG< 4.8 APG, 1.5 SPG), and Jack Nunge. Boum and Jones are both fantastic defenders and shooters, making over 40% of their threes. Jones has been the best of the group over their last five games, averaging 17.8 points and 2.0 steals. It’s come at a good time, as Boum has struggled with his shot of late, making just 36.7% of his attempts over their last five. Freemantle is having an incredible senior season. At 6’9”, he is one of their go-to players in the low post, where he makes 51.7% of his shots. Nunge is an incredible shooter, completing 52.1% from the field and 43.8% from three. He is also the teams second-leading rebounder, meaning he can play anywhere on the court.
Xavier’s top scorers are supported by Adam Kunkel (10.1 PPG, 3.0 APG) and Jerome Hunter (6.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG). Kunkel is a fantastic shooter, making 47.5% of his shots from the field and 39.4% from three. He shot poorly against Marquette but still managed 12 points with four rebounds and assists. Kunkel has a steal or blocks in each of his last six games. Hunter is a physical forward that has been a solid rebounder and is making 57.1% of his shots. He was solid in their win against Marquette, scoring 11 points to go with five rebounds.
Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette is having an incredible season in Shaka Smart’s second year with the program. They rose in the rankings to as high as tenth, but a loss to Uconn last week dropped them down a spot. Despite the loss, they have been playing well, going 11-2 over their last 13 games. Marquette has been an elite offensive team, ranking twentieth in the country in scoring (81.2 PPG), fifth in field goal percentage (49.91%), and third in fast break points (16.42 PPG). Their defense has struggled a bit, ranking seventh in the Big East in scoring (70.7 PPG) and field goal percentage (44.7%), ninth in three-point percentage (35.2%), and tenth in blocks (3.5 BPG). While they give up points, they play aggressively on defensive, averaging 9.5 per game (9th in NCAA).
The Golden Eagles are led by Kam Jones (15.2 PPG, 1.4 SPG), Olivier-Maxence Prosper (13.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG), and Tyler Kolek (11.6 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.7 SPG). While Jones is their leading scorer, he has seen his minutes fluctuate and his scoring decrease over their last five games. He’s averaging 10.4 points and 23.4 minutes during that span. He has adjusted his shot over the previous week, so we’ll see if it pays off on Wednesday. Prosper is a talented scorer and defender, with eight steals in their last three games. Kolek has been the best in the group recently, averaging 17.6 points and 2.0 steals over their previous five games. He’s an incredible floor general that always seems to find the open man, ranking second in the country in assists. Kolek torched Xavier for 25 points and seven assists in the road loss.
A lot of depth supports Marquette’s top trio, led by Oso Ighodaro (11.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.7 BPG), David Joplin (9.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG), and Stevie Mitchell (6.8 PPG, 1.4 SPG). Ighodaro is one of the best post players in the conference, ranking second in the Big East in field goal percentage (65.7%) and sixth in blocks. He was excellent against Xavier last month, scoring 14 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and blocking two shots. Joplin is a great defender, with six steals in his previous four games. He’s also one of the team’s best three-point shooters, making 39.5% of his attempts. Mitchell hasn’t contributed much on offense in the second half of the season, but he has been great on defense, with seven steals in his last four games.
Free Pick: Marquette -5.5
We’re taking the Golden Eagles at home on Wednesday night. This teams are incredibly even talent-wise, but Marquette has been the better team of late. A reason for their success has been their play at home, going undefeated in Milwaukee this season. They have the scoring talent to keep up with Xavier and take advantage of their poor defense. While Marquette’s defense has also struggled, they have been noticeably better at home all season.
As good as Xavier is, they’ve been awful on the road of late. While they beat UConn, they also lost to DePaul, Butler, and Creighton. Combine that with Marquette’s play at home, and this one is an easy pick.
We’re giving up the points to roll with Marquette at home on Wednesday.