X Marks the Spot of Glory at the Garden
The Xavier Musketeers open at +450 to win the Big East tournament next week at Madison Square Garden. The Musketeers have the fourth-best odds behind Marquette, Creighton, and UConn. If the tournament started today, Creighton and UConn would be playing their first game against each other in the 4 v 5 matchup, and the winner would, in all likelihood, play Marquette in the semi-final.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, Xavier would avoid all three teams prior to the final, getting the winner of Seton Hall v DePaul in the quarterfinal. This game would be followed by a contest against Providence in the second round. This current seeding should hold true so long as Providence beats Seton Hall at home tomorrow, where they have lost just once this year.
I do not worry about Providence being motivated to win the contest because a win means avoiding Creighton or UConn in the quarterfinal. Providence is also off a loss, so Ed Cooley should have his squad ready for Saturday’s contest, where Providence opens as an 8.5-point favorite.
The Musketeers would likely face the Friars in the semi-final. Xavier is 2-0 this season against Providence, handing them their sole home loss this year, this past week at the Pavilion. There is also a chance Xavier avoids Providence altogether, potentially getting Villanova, who has played Providence close twice this year.
Xavier will likely be favored in the semi-final against either Providence or Villanova. At that point, you are getting Xavier in the Conference title game on a neutral court against either Marquette, who they are 1-1 against, including a blown three-point lead with less than a minute to go at Marquette. Creighton who they are 1-1 against, or UConn who they have beaten twice this year.
We’ve Seen this Movie Before
Xavier should be the favorite to win this tournament purely based on their path, which is much easier than the three teams listed above them, who are all on the same side of the bracket. Xavier is also arguably the best team in this conference. The Musketeers could be getting back Zach Fremantle for this tournament.
The Senior forward was an absolute force this season prior to his injury averaging 15.2 points and 8.1 boards per contest. When he is on the floor, I think Xavier is clearly the top team in this conference. Without Fremantle, Xavier still has one of the best offenses in the country, led by the trio of Sr. guard Souley Boum (17 PPG, 4.5 AST) and Sr. forward Jack Nunge (14.2 PPG, 7.9 REB) and Jr. guard Colby Jones (15.2 PPG, 5.2 REB, 4.6 AST).
Solely Boum has made a case for conference player of the year this season. The transfer from UTEP is absolute dynamite, and can go get 25+ on any given night. We have seen this time and time again with veteran guard play taking over late in big games. Senior guards such as Kemba Walker, Colin Gilespie, Josh Hart, and Peyton Silva have all led their teams to Big East tournament titles shining at MSG.
Xavier being on the opposite side of the bracket of the three teams with better odds than them. Combined with the likelihood of them being favored all the way to the championship, having beaten every opponent they will face in this tournament, leads me to believe there is too much value to pass up on the Musketeers in this position.
Sean Miller has coached in these big games before, and Xavier has a ton of veterans on this roster. Not to mention the potential of getting back Zach Freemantle, who would make this team the best in the conference. In a tournament full of so many tight contests, having a closer like Souley Boum could make all the difference. Take Xavier at +450 to win the Big East Tournament.
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