Xavier vs. Providence NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions

Al Durham #1 of the Providence Friars dunks the ball past Zach Freemantle #32 of the Xavier Musketeers. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

In looking over the various ‘bracketologists’, both Xavier and Providence will be “dancing” in just over a couple of weeks. But how they play tonight and over the next several contests will determine their positioning in the Big East Tournament and beyond.

Having lost four of five, Xavier (17-9, 13-13 ATS) is now below .500 in the Big East at 7-8 and if they have too many missteps, the Musketeers could find themselves on the “bubble” which was unthinkable to start the season.

Providence at 22-3 (14-11 ATS) has failed to beat the spread in its past three outings and is just 3-6 ATS in their last nine starts. The Friars remain in the top spot in the Big East, nonetheless, they still have work to do to stay on top of the standings.

Xavier Musketeers vs. Providence Friars

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 07:00 PM EST at Dunkin Donuts Center

Quality sportsbooks like Caesars have Providence as a short 2.5-point home favorite in this Big East bash, with a total of 139.5.

Xavier Has to Find Ways to Turn Season Around

Head coach Travis Steele knew coming into this season he needed a big year since it had been two seasons, plus the Covid canceled NCAA Tournament, that Xavier was part of the field of 68 that was playing big boy basketball in mid-March.

The Musketeers, despite some key injuries, got off to a rollicking 14-3 start and looked poised for a big year. Then, 80-point outputs were followed by those in the 60’s. That was followed by games where even reaching the low 70’s took a lot of effort and the slide was underway.

Let’s face it, Xavier fans expect to own the middle of February forward, knocking off whoever was in their way until they face a truly more talented squad in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 of the tournament.

What looks to be the problem is timing. The Musketeers’ offense goes chilly and that affects the defense and the opposing team goes on a run. Also, in close games late, the half-court execution is faulty and questionable shots are launched and missed and the opposing club comes down and scores.

It seems, better execution and play-calling would help along with more intestinal fortitude.

Providence Knows How to Win, Not Dominant

Providence has a pair of eight-game win streaks this season and in the first batch they were 7-1 ATS and in the second group, they were 4-4 ATS.

The latter featured more conference play, which means familiarity compared to most of the initial offering. In attempting to analyze the difference and understand the why, one of the first things that come to mind is the betting odds.

When the Friars were 13-1 and 10-4 ATS, though they are seldom a heavily wagered team, in looking over the lines from this timeline, they might have been overvalued. Not dramatically, but enough to matter.

We say that because Providence is 11-1 SU in games determined by seven points or less. That tells us that almost half their games have come down to the final, five or six possessions and they either maintained a lead, hung on to win or came from behind for the victory.

As opposed to Xavier, coach Ed Cooley’s squads are more widely known for fading later in the season. Losing to Villanova last week was not a disgrace, even at home and they narrowly avoided consecutive losses, with a come-from-behind overtime win at Creighton.

But if you are a Providence fan or betting backer, those three straight non-covers have your attention. We admire this Friars club’s ability to win, but is there trouble ahead?

What is the Best Side to Be On?

When making college basketball picks, though where these teams are record-wise doesn’t add up to the point spread, we understand the justification.

Nevertheless, Xavier is still 4-11 ATS in the conference and on a 3-8 ATS downward trend when facing winning teams.

Providence plays a lot of tight games, yet is 10-2 ATS teams outscoring their opponents by 4+ points a  game this season and 10-3 ATS following a ATS loss, which we feel is good enough to beat this spread.

NCAAB Pick: Providence -2.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook