Representing the 2 and 6 seeds of the West bracket, the 33-3 Arizona Wildcats will face the 23-13 Xavier Musketeers in Los Angeles Saturday Night. Both teams have cruised to the round of 16 With Arizona winning both of their games by an average of 17 points and Xavier winning their 2 games by an average of 13 points. Arizona is coming off of a win vs Ohio State where they were able to hold the Buckeyes best player D’Angelo Russell to just 9 points on 3-19 shooting. Xavier defeated Georgia State who became the darlings of the tournament after upsetting # 3 seed Baylor.
Xavier has a very solid and consistent offense as they have six players who all average at least 8 points per game. Center Matt Stainbrook leads the team in both scoring and rebounding at 12 and 7 respectively. They are extremely unselfish group who passes very well while not turning the ball over. They rank 12th in the nation is assist percentage and point guard Dee Davis has an over 2.5 assist to turnover ratio. Jalen Reynolds had a monster game making 8 out of 9 shots for 21 points and he also grabbed 6 rebounds. A weakness for them is offensive rebounding as they rank 166th in the nation at offensive rebounding percentage at 31.3%. While they don’t shoot the ball particularly well, guard Myles Davis is capable of getting hot as he did versus Georgia State when he made 5 three pointers. They rank 230th in the country in blocks
Arizona is back in the sweet 16 for the 3rd year in a row and has looked very impressive so far. They beat Ohio State by 15 points while only shooting 37 percent from the floor. Their best player Stanley Johnson was held to 1-12 shooting and scored only 4 points. This is a recipe for disaster yet Arizona hardly had to break a sweat because of all of the other tools they have at their disposal. Gabe York made 5 three pointers and T.J. Mconnell filled the stat sheet with 19 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. The point is even with their best player having a terrible game; the Wildcats are still capable of dominating, let alone simply winning. They easily won rebounding battle as they grabbed 43 to Ohio States 26. They also took 9 more free throws than the Buckeyes.
Arizona has a much better record this year against the spread as they went 23-13 while Xavier went 17-17-1. With that said, Xavier really steps it up during March Madness as they are an incredible 20-3-1 in their past 24 tournament games against the spread. The spread for this game is high with Arizona being 11 point favorites but that shouldn’t be an issue for the Wildcats as they are 11-3 against the spread the last 14 games where they were considered double digit favorites. Both teams have had several days to rest and will be fresh for this matchup.
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