The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-11) and Xavier Musketeers (21-12) will face off in the South Region on Friday night inside the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Xavier Musketeers
Notre Dame is the No. 7 seed in the South Region and will take on the No. 10 seed Xavier Musketeers in a game between the Big East and Atlantic 10 Conferences. The Fighting Irish were bounced out of the Big East Tournament by dropping a 64-50 contest to the eventual winner Louisville as 3.5-point underdogs. “It’s kind of a fresh start,” commented Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey. The program is making its 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament and comes in with a losing 31-35 record in such contests. Notre Dame is 1-5 ATS when playing on a neutral court this year.
The Fighting Irish lead the all-time series with the Musketeers by a 15-3 margin, including an 83-71 win in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame is led by a trio of starters that average in double figures, with junior forward Jack Cooley leading the way in scoring 12.4 points per game. The team is definitely battle tested in posting a 10-7 record against teams that made the Big Dance.
Xavier is one of only eight schools that have made at least seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances, as it comes in already securing its seventh straight 20-win season. The Musketeers are very good on the perimeter defensively, leading the Atlantic 10 in allowing opponents to shoot just 39.8 percent from the floor. On the offensive end, senior All-American point guard Tu Holloway is the player to watch, coming in averaging a team-high 17.0 points per game. Xavier is 3-4 ATS as an underdog and the “over” is 5-1 in those games.
The Musketeers haven’t skipped a beat since third-year head coach Chris Mack took over the program, posting a 71-29 overall mark, including a 39-9 record in conference play. Junior guard Mark Lyons joins Holloway in the backcourt, averaging 15.5 points per game and dishing out 2.7 assists.
Bettors will likely back the Musketeers due to their 9-2-1 ATS mark in the NCAA Tournament as an underdog, while the Fighting Irish are 1-10-2 ATS in non-conference action.
Recommendation: Xavier Musketeers +2.5
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