Big East Championship Final: #15 Xavier Musketeers vs #6 Marquette Golden Eagles (3/11 @ 6:30 PM EST)
Spread: Marquette -2.5
Money Line: Xavier +120 / Marquette -140
Overview and Betting Info
The #15 Xavier Musketeers (25-8) will be taking on the #6 Marquette Golden Eagles (17-6) for the Big East Championship Final on Saturday night. These two teams split their regular season series with the home team winning both. Marquette won the regular season Big East title while Xavier finished two games back in second.
Xavier is 18-14-1 against the spread this season and have covered three of their last five games. They’ve gone over the total 21 times and have done so in four of their last five.
Marquette is 20-12-1 versus the spread but have covered just four of their last ten games. They’ve gone over the total 17 times but have been under in three of their last five.
Xavier locked up the two-seed after winning six of their last seven games. They struggled in the quarterfinal against DePaul but bounced back in the semifinals to dominate #24 Creighton 82-60. They beat the Golden Eagles at home this season and were lost on the road to a Marquette dunk with one second left. That loss was part of a skid where they lost three of four games. They bounced back to win five straight, including ranked teams in Providence and Creighton. The Musketeers are 3-2 in neutral court games with losses to Duke and Gonzaga.
Xavier has had success this year thanks to an offense that ranks tenth in the country in scoring (82.1 PPG), third in field goal percentage (50%), fifth in three-point percentage (39.8%), and first in assists (19.9 APG). They’ve been playing their best offensive basketball lately, averaging 85 points during their five-game win streak. Two areas of concern involve their discipline, as they are sixth in fouls (16.2 FPG) and seventh in turnovers (12.6 TO/G). They were held under their averages in their last game against Marquette, but still made over 50% of their shots.
Xavier’s defense has been a different story this season. They rank eighth in opponent scoring (74.3 PPG), seventh in field goal percentage (44.6%), tenth in three-point percentage, ninth in blocks (3.2 BPG), and sixth in steals (6.7 SPG). Their poor defense almost cost them in their quarterfinal game, where they surrendered 84 points to a DePaul team averaging 71. Xavier allowed the Blue Demons to make 61.4% of their shots, including 50% from three. They did play better in their two games against Marquette, holding them to an average of 72.5 points in the two games.
Marquette Golden Eagles
The Golden Eagles locked up the Big East regular season title after winning ten of their final 11 games. That run included wins against ranked Xavier, Creighton, and Providence teams. Despite earning the top seed in the Big East tournament, they have struggled in their first two games. They needed overtime to beat St. John’s in the quarterfinal and snuck by UConn after the Huskies missed their final shot. The Golden Eagles are 3-1 in neutral court games, but none were against impressive teams.
Marquette’s offense has also been one of the best in the country, just a little behind the Musketeers. They are fourteenth in the country in scoring (81.0 PPG), sixth in field goal percentage (49.5%), and fourth in assists (18.0 APG). They finished the season scoring well but were held to under 73 points in both tournament games (including in overtime against St. Johns). Their ability to shoot the three has been an issue, as they rank sixth by making 35.1% of their attempts. They were awful from three against St Johns but bounced back against UConn to make 37.9% of their threes.
The Golden Eagles have struggled on defense all season. They rank sixth in the Big East in opponent scoring (71.2 PPG), tenth in blocks (3.1 BPG), and ninth in field goal (44.8%) and three-point (35.5%) percentage. They’ve been able to win with these numbers because of their aggressive play on the defensive end, as they are sixth in the country in steals (9.5 SPG). Another concern is their fouls, as they rank eighth in the Big East (16.4 FPG). Marquette did play well on defense in their win over Xavier, holding them to 68 points despite making 52.9% of their shots.
Free Pick: Xavier +2.5
We watched both matchups between these two teams this season, and Xavier was the better team. The Eagles were able to hold them off for a home win, but that was due to one of their better three-point shooting nights. They have not been a consistent part of their game, so it’s hard to rely on it happening again on Saturday.
We also look at the games these two these teams have played in the tournament. While Xavier struggled to stop DePaul, they were able to easily handle a ranked Creighton team. Conversely, Marquette needed last-second heroics to win both of their games. While UConn is a good team, that’s still back-to-back intense games that will have worn this team down. We see Xavier having momentum and more energy when they meet tonight, which is why we like Xavier.
We are taking the points to roll with Xavier in the Big East Final