DePaul Blue Demons vs. Xavier Musketeers Prediction
DePaul Blue Demons (15-16 SU, 14-16 ATS) vs. Xavier Musketeers (19-12 SU, 11-19-1 ATS)
When: Wednesday, March 11, 9:30 p.m.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Point Spread: DEP +4/XAV -4 (Intertops - Deposit $100, get $50 FREE from the web’s oldest and most trusted betting site!)
Total: O/U 135
Last Time Out:
DePaul lost 93-55 to Providence; Xavier lost 72-71 to Butler.
Scouting the Blue Demons:
That record is dangerous for Xavier because DePaul’s got something to play for. The Blue Demons are one game under .500, and that means that if they make a run to the semifinals of the Big East tournament, they’d be eligible for the NIT. The Blue Demons probably haven’t done enough to make it, but they’ve certainly got the talent to ruin the Musketeers’ season if they play their game.
That means getting Charlie Moore to shoot the ball well and shoot it often. Moore has proven to be a solid scorer for the Blue Demons when he’s on, but too often, his shot went missing in action against quality opponents in Big East play. In the past three games, he really hasn’t shot well at all, going a combined 11-for-41. Getting Paul Reed back would help a lot, as Reed has been a solid No. 2 scorer and the top rebounder the Demons have. If he’s on the floor, DePaul becomes a much tougher team inside and gains another efficient scorer. If not, things could get ugly for the Demons, which is precisely what happened against Providence (although, to be fair, the Friars have been doing that to everyone as of late).
Scouting the Musketeers:
If only Xavier had taken care of business to close out the regular season. The X-Men had two good chances to pick up the kind of win that would have carried them into the tournament if they could have won at Providence or at home against Butler. Still, the Musketeers couldn’t get the job done, so now they’ve got to take out DePaul just to get themselves in position for being on the bubble. Really, the Musketeers have done this to themselves, as they have been Naji Marshall and little else for much of February.
Marshall seems to have taken his game to another level in recent weeks, but the rest of the Musketeers haven’t matched. Jason Carter did step up in the loss to Butler, but that’s the first time that Carter has made himself a factor, and it happened because the rest of the Musketeers weren’t doing much scoring. Against the Bulldogs, Marshall, Carter, and Tyrique Jones combined for 52 of the Musketeers’ 71 points, and that’s just not going to get it done against the better Big East squads.
Tournament setting. DePaul gets to play with absolutely nothing to lose, and that’s a dangerous thing for Xavier because the Musketeers have everything to lose. Xavier has to win this game to get into the tournament because the bubble is likely to shrink enough to leave the Musketeers on the wrong side of it if they flame out in the first round. That kind of pressure can work either way, but too many times, it tends to overwhelm the team that needs to get the win, and they end up spending the postseason in the NIT. Xavier has to match DePaul’s loose demeanor and not let itself panic if things don’t go well early on. If the Musketeers get off to a slow start, DePaul could hang around all game.
DePaul will Cover if:
Reed is back and ready to play. DePaul is a much better team with Reed in the lineup, and if he’s on the court and starting, this sets up very well for DePaul to catch Xavier sleeping and pull off the cover in the late game. If he’s not back, the Blue Demons will need Moore to have a fantastic game to have a chance. In the return game, he shot it well but didn’t shoot it often enough, going just 5-for-9 against the Musketeers. He’s got to take his shots when they come.
Xavier will Cover if:
The Musketeers can force the Blue Demons into mistakes. When you turn the ball over 22 times, as DePaul did in Cincinnati against Xavier, you’re going to lose a lot of basketball games. Xavier has the defense needed to frustrate Moore and DePaul, and if the Demons are giving the ball away, the Musketeers will have an excellent chance to get some separation and prevent thoughts of an upset.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Xavier has been about as bad as it gets when it comes to hitting its numbers, and I don’t love the idea of laying chalk with this squad. DePaul played Xavier tough twice, and I think they can hang around for the entire game before succumbing if Paul Reed is in the lineup. If he’s not playing, either skip this game or go ahead and eat the chalk with Xavier. But if Reed (check status) is in uniform, I want the Blue Demons in this game. I don’t think they cover, but they should be viable with the spread. I’m taking DePaul.
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