Xavier vs. Marquette Top Picks for Wednesday: Spread Too High In Huge Big East Game?

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NCAAB Pick: Xavier +6 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Xavier +6 (-110)
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The Big East has a ranked matchup for the second straight night in college basketball on Wednesday as No. 16 Xavier visits No. 11 Marquette.

Which side of the 6-point spread has the best value at BMR’s top-rated online books? We also have a play on the total. 

Remember, fans from the Buckeye State who want to make a wager on this game should check out our top-rated Ohio betting sites.

Xavier Musketeers vs. Marquette Golden Eagles 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Fiserv Forum 

CBS Sports Network has this terrific Big East matchup between No. 16 Xavier and No. 11 Marquette. Sadly, it’s tipping off at the same time as No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Tennessee from the SEC, which is shown on ESPN2. That’s what picture-in-picture is for, I guess. 

The Musketeers go for the regular-season sweep as they were 3-point home favorites on the NCAAB odds on Jan. 15 and beat Marquette 80-76. Souley Boum and Jack Nunge each scored 16 points to lead the winners. Boum then hit two free throws with a few seconds left to seal the victory as the Musketeers went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 28 seconds. Tyler Kolek scored 25 points to lead Marquette.

The teams combined for 92 first-half points and then just 58 in the second. After halftime, Kolek scored only five points. 

Marquette leads the series 55-27 and the home team has won the past five. The Golden Eagles are 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings. 

Xavier Is Without Key Player 

Xavier (19-6, 11-3 Big East) might have been looking ahead to this game a bit as it was upset 69-67 at Butler last Friday – although the Bulldogs aren’t as bad as their record but have dealt with a ton of injuries. Butler never trailed and held one of the nation’s top offenses nearly 17 points below its average. XU had just 21 first-half points but did wake up in the second half and shot 60 percent after the break. 

Colby Jones led the Musketeers with 17 points after scoring 14 in the second half to go with eight rebounds. Jack Nunge had 14 points and eight rebounds. Souley Boum finished with 12 points on just 4-for-14 shooting. He might not have been fully healthy as the senior hasn’t practiced since with an ankle injury but will play Wednesday. On the season, he averages 16.1 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds.  

Boum is among the 10 candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation’s top point guard. Boum is sixth among active career scorers in NCAA Division I with 2,255 points. Nunge (14.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is among the 10 candidates for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, which goes to the nation’s top center. Jones (15.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.8 apg) is among the Top 10 for the Julius Erving Award, which goes to the nation’s top small forward.

Musketeers Loaded And On Target

Yet you could argue the team’s best player is forward Zach Freemantle (15.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg). However, he has been out since Jan. 28 due to a fractured foot and likely misses the rest of the regular season. The team’s defense is a bit of a concern without him. 

Xavier is first in the nation in assists per game at 20.6 apg., fourth in overall field goal percentage (.500), second in 3-point field goal percentage (.401), ninth in scoring offense at 83.2 ppg, and second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.59. Honestly, the Musketeers are a lot like the Golden State Warriors.  

XU is 16-1 when it holds the opponent under 50 percent from the field, 16-2 when it outrebounds its opponent or ties in the rebounding battle, 15-2 when leading at halftime, and 13-1 when it shoots 50 percent or better from the field. 

To win the Big East regular-season title, Xavier is (+450). To reach the Final Four (possibly, if Freemantle is back) it’s (+700), and for the national title (+3500). ESPN bracketology has XU as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region and opening against No. 13 Utah Valley. CBS has Coach Sean Miller’s team as a No. 3 in the South against No. 14 Yale. 

The Musketeers are 7-2 ATS in their past nine vs. teams with a winning record. 

MU Controls Big East Destiny 

Marquette (20-6, 12-3 Big East) was not expected to be that great this season -- picked to finish ninth in the preseason coaches in the Big East and without a player on the all-conference roster -- but sits atop the Big East standings as coach Shaka Smart has done a terrific job. I’m still a bit skeptical.  

The Golden Eagles are (-110) favorites to win the Big East regular-season title, (+750) to reach the Final Four, and (+4000) to win the national title. I don’t recommend those latter two wagers as possible NCAAB picks. Marquette's last regular-season league title came in 2012-13 (shared with Louisville and Georgetown). 

MU comes off an 89-75 win at Georgetown on Saturday. Sophomore Kam Jones entered on a bit of a slump, averaging just 9.5 points and shooting 27.3% from deep in the previous four, but had 14 points and was 4-for-9 from three-point range. Oso Ighodaro and Tyler Kolek also had 14 points. 

Kolek Drives Team

Kolek is the engine that makes the team go as he is among 10 candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation’s top point guard. Kolek averages 11.6 points, 7.7 assists (second in the nation), and 4.0 rebounds and is just the fourth player in Marquette history to dish out 200 assists in a season and has well surpassed his season total from 2021-22.  

In the last five games, Kolek leads the team with 17.6 points per contest and has combined to shoot 51.7 percent from the floor overall and 10-of-20 from behind the three-point line. After scoring in double figures just five times in the team’s first 18 games, Kolek has scored at least 10 points in seven of the last eight. 

Smart’s teams rely on pressure defense, and the Golden Eagles rank first in the Big East and ninth in the country in steals per game (9.5). Four players are ranked among the league leaders, and the team’s +5.2 turnover margin also tops the conference. 

Marquette is 6-1 ATS in its past seven at home.

While I understand why it is favored here, 6 points feels like a few too many as I expect something in the ballpark of an 80-76 score like the first game. 

NCAAB Pick: Under 159 (-110) at BetOnline  

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Under 159 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.