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College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Indiana vs. Xavier (Friday, Nov. 18)

Indiana vs. Xavier Odds

The Gavitt Games feature plenty of high-level matchups.

But in my opinion, this game takes the cake.

Indiana is the consensus favorite to win the Big Ten, even after finishing 9-11 in league play last season. The Hoosiers are 2-0 on the season with dominating wins over low-major teams, but that gives us little information.

Meanwhile, Xavier is beginning his second stint with head coach Sean Miller. After several disappointing seasons with Arizona, Miller is looking to revive his career and Xavier’s championship hopes.

There are several fun storylines here to digest. But where does the betting value lie?

Indiana has met expectations through two games, as its numbers are beyond excellent.

However, we must dig deeper to see what Indiana is about this season. I’ve made a couple of observations.

First, Trayce Jackson-Davis hasn’t dropped off one bit. He’s posting 18 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 71.4% from the field. He even grabbed six offensive rebounds against Bethune-Cookman.

Second, Miller Kopp looks good to start the season. His spot-up shooting could make the difference for this Indiana team, and he was 4-for-6 from deep against Bethune-Cookman.

Third, and most importantly, I’m still very low on the backcourt.

Jalen Hood-Schifino and Xavier Johnson have done little-to-nothing through Indiana’s first two games. The Hoosiers lived and died with Johnson and the backcourt last season, winning when the guards played well and losing when they played poorly.

The duo has dished out plenty of assists through two games while limiting turnovers, but they’re mostly just dumping the ball to the post. Meanwhile, they’ve contributed nothing to scoring.

I might be proven wrong. But until Indiana provides consistent, high-level guard play, I am selling the Hoosiers.

It’s hard to doubt the defense, as Indiana allowed just .664 PPP in half-court play in the first two games. I expect this to be a top-10 defensive unit this season.

But I wouldn’t mind fading Indiana.

Xavier has an incredibly high floor.

Jack Nunge is one of the best bigs in college basketball. He’s a 7-foot athletic center who rebounds efficiently and smothers opposing ball handlers around the rim.

But Nunge might be taking a step forward this season. He averaged 13.4 points per game last season with a 127 ORtg, but he’s up to 18.4 points with a 132 ORtg through two games this season.

It’s early, but Nunge looks incredible in the middle of Miller’s team.

Surrounding Nunge is a trio of starters from last year’s team, including Adam Kunkel, Colby Jones and Zach Freemantle.

Again, high floor.

However, there are a few issues.

First, the bench is young and unproven. The biggest bench scorers are freshmen Desmond Claude and Kam Craft.

Second, Freemantle and Nunge are a liability as a defensive frontcourt. It’s hard for them to defend on the perimeter against stretch offenses, whether it’s motion or a ball screen.

Finally, I’m still not convinced Souley Boum is Paul Scruggs re-incarnated. He’s been incredible through two games, but the UTEP transfer is about to enter the danger zone against Indiana.

Indiana vs. Xavier BettingPick

This game opened Indiana -1.5 and the Hoosiers immediately took all the money. At the time of writing, Indiana has been steamed as high as -3 at some books.

However, I’d rather skip a side altogether and bet the total.

These two offenses have looked stellar, but neither has faced a KenPom top-200 team yet.

More specifically, none of the opposing teams have had the size to counter Nunge or Jackson-Davis. The offenses could dump it down low and let the big men cook.

These two frontcourts are going to battle on Friday night. The Nunge-Davis and Freemantle-Thompson battles are going to be a slog.

That means the difference in this matchup will be decided in the backcourt, between a quartet of guards I have no faith in.

So be it if Johnson and Boom step up in a big game. And so be it if freshmen Hood-Schifino and Claude step up on primetime television.

I am not buying it. Everybody should struggle to score in their first big test, especially against two top-tier college basketball defenses led by elite rim protectors.

I’ll happily buy the under at this number, and I’ll be looking for anything better than 142.

Pick: Under 144 (-110 at Caesars Sportsbook)

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