Temple Owls vs. Xavier Musketeers Preview and Pick

Temple Owls (12-8) at No. 9 Xavier Musketeers (19-2)
Cintas Center, Cincinnati, O.H., 7:00PM Eastern, Thursday

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The Temple Owls travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to battle the No. 9 ranked Xavier Musketeers on Thursday night. The Musketeers have been red hot winning 10 straight games and sport a superb record at home at a mark of 11-1 with their only home loss coming by a 74-65 loss to Butler back in mid December. Temple on the other hand has been very inconsistent all season with spurts of both winning and losing streaks on multiple occasions. However, the Owls knocked off a similarly highly ranked Xavier team last year when they upset the No. 12 ranked Musketeers by nearly 20 points. The Owls got the big win last season at home and they will be looking to do the same, but this time it will be a more difficult feat as they will have to pull of an upset inside the Cintas Center.

The No. 9 ranked Xavier Musketeers have had an impressive run over the last few weeks since their back to back losses to Duke and Butler in mid December. Xavier has rattled off 10 straight victories and has yet to lose in 2009. The Musketeers enter the contest fresh off a very close finish against Massachusetts 82-80 last Saturday. Xavier has really performed well on the defensive side of the court as they are one of the top teams in the nation at causing teams to miss shots. The Musketeers rank 8th nationally in field goal percentage against holding opponents to a dreary 36% from the field this season. The Owls have not necessarily shot the ball very well this season either and the Musketeers will try to shut down the Temple offense.

The Owls are only averaging 69 points per game this season which ranks right outside the top 100 around the country. Temple got a big win over Xavier last season and it would be even bigger if they could go on the road and do it again this year. The Owls have not been to stellar on the road this season as 7 of their 8 losses have come away from home. Temple knocked off Richmond 74-65 last Saturday and they will try to make it two in a row. The Owls have had a good run against the Musketeers in the last few meetings winning 6 of the last 9 while sporting a healthy 6-2 record against the spread during that stretch as well. The Owls will look to keep these trends going on Thursday night.

Bookies have opened the betting line favoring Xaviers number 9th ranked campaign by 8 points even. The over/under total for the contest is posted at 132 considering both teams have a tendency to keep the scoring rather low.

Temple senior guard Dionte Christmas leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring posting 20.5 points per game while also bringing down 7 boards per game as well. The Owls have two other scorers averaging double figures by the way of Ryan Brooks and Lavoy Allen. Allen is a big forward that really gives Temple a boost on the boards who averages 8 rebounds per game. Allen and the rest of the Owls will have to find away to be effective against the glass and keep Xavier off the boards since they are one of the premier rebounding teams in America averaging 40.3 rebounds per game. If the Owls can do that and hit some shots, then they will have a chance to get the 2nd upset over the Musketeers in two years.

Xavier also has three players averaging 10 or more points led by the play of junior forward Derrick Brown. Brown leads the team in scoring with 14 points per game while shooting a very strong 54% from the floor. B.J Raymond and C.J Anderson also aid support for the Musketeers with 11 or more points per contest. All 3 of these key players had 20 point performances against UMass last Saturday and they will need another equal performance on Thursday against the Owls. The Musketeers also shoot the ball very well even though a lot of points come from the inside. Xavier has knocked down 47.8 % of their shots from the floor this season that ranks in the Top 30 in America.

Betting Trends
The Owls are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings and have won 3 of the last 4 straight up. The Musketeers have reached the over total in 3 of their last 4 and have a 12-7 record with the over vs. under for the season. The Owls are 11-8 ATS for the season, but only support a 6-6 ATS mark on the road.

Jay’s Pick - Xavier - 8.