The day has arrived for interim head coach Rodney Terry and the two-seed Texas basketball to battle head coach Sean Miller and the three-seed Xavier Musketeers in the Midwest Region Sweet 16. Texas will look to make its first appearance in the Elite Eight since 2008 if it can top a really good Xavier team heading into the weekend.
Texas boasts a record of 28-8 (12-6 Big 12) following its narrow 71-66 win over the 10-seed Penn State Nittany Lions in the Round of 32 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA, on March 18. Terry and the Longhorns have now defeated the 15-seed Colgate Raiders and 10-seed Penn State in the NCAA Tournament to reach the Sweet 16.
Xavier comes into the Sweet 16 with a record of 27-9 (15-5 Big East) after a convincing 84-73 win over the 11-seed Pitt Panthers in the Round of 32 on March 19. The Musketeers have knocked off the 14-seed Kennesaw State Owls and 11-seed Pitt to get to the third round of the Big Dance.
Here’s a look at the betting odds and game prediction as the two-seed Texas gets set to face the three-seed Xavier at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, MO, in the Sweet 16 on March 24. The tip-off time is set for 8:45 p.m. CT and it will be televised on CBS.
Texas basketball vs. Xavier: Betting odds for Sweet 16
Texas is a 3.5-point favorite against Xavier and the over/under is set at 148.5 (per FanDuel).
The moneyline favors Texas (-178) over Xavier (+146).
According to Kenpom, Texas has a 62 percent chance of beating Xavier. And Kenpom predicts Texas to beat Xavier 78-75.
Texas vs. Xavier prediction
This has all the makings of a really tight game in the Sweet 16 between the Longhorns and the Musketeers. Xavier comes in with one of the most efficient offenses in the country, ranking 21st in offensive rating (112.5), sixth in three-point shooting percentage (38.9), and first in assists per game (19.3).
Texas has faced some solid offenses during the NCAA Tournament and in Big 12 play during the regular season, so this is not a new concept to Terry and his staff to prepare for a high-octane attack facing their defense.
Terry and the Longhorns are also on quite the run of late in terms of holding their opponents’ offense at bay. Texas has held each of its last six opponents under 70 points, including some of the best offenses in the country in the likes of the Kansas Jayhawks, Colgate, and Penn State.
If Texas can play at its pace while limiting untimely turnovers, that should be enough to get a firm edge on Xavier. Miller’s squad is not only able to score at an extremely high rate, at a mark of more than 81 points per game this season, but they can also destroy opponents that turn the ball over a lot.
Xavier is 9-0 this season when scoring at least 19 points off opponent turnovers. And in each of those nine games, Xavier’s opponent turned the ball over at least 14 times.
The good news is that Xavier isn’t a great defensive team and Texas has done a nice job taking care of the basketball in the last few weeks. If the Longhorns can continue to take care of the basketball in this one, I have faith they can come out on top in the end.