Even though the Gonzaga Bulldogs might not be all that well known to the country at large, there are a sizable number of people who expected that they might find themselves in a position to play for spot in the Final Four. But a month or so ago, no one would have afforded to that kind of a chance to the Xavier Musketeers, who had lost their best player to an injury. But here they are, with an opportunity to win the regional and get to where most teams only dream. This one will begin at 6:09 PM ET on Saturday from the SAP Center in San Jose, and VietBet customers, who get reduced juice, affording them better March Madness betting odds, can follow the game on CBS and place wagers on it in real-time through the mechanism known as Live Betting Ultra.
Elite 8 Odds – Xavier vs Gonzaga:
In the March Madness betting odds posted on this game by the folks at VietBet, home of reduced juice and Bitcoin deposits, Gonzaga is solidly favored:
Gonzaga Bulldogs -8.5
Xavier Musketeers +8.5
Over 145 points -110
Under 145 points -110
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Elite 8 Betting Preview: Xavier vs Gonzaga – CJ’s Take:
Both of these squads had to deal with a very difficult opponent in the Sweet 16. Gonzaga was forced to contend with a West Virginia club that was the best in the nation at forcing turnovers, and indeed, they committed 16 of them. They also allowed the Mountaineers to dominate the offensive glass. But they were able to hang in there and grind out a 61-58 victory. While only one West Virginia player scored in double figures, the Bulldogs had three different people with 13 points, and Nigel Williams-Goss, the player of the year the West Coast Conference, had 10. Gonzaga is now 35-1 straight-up and 22-9-2 against the basketball point spread.
Xavier went into a bit of a tailspin after losing its best player, 6-6 guard Edmond Sumner (14.9 points, 4.9 assists per game), who was lost for the season with a knee injury. And they have had some horrific shooting efforts. But everything has come together in the Big Dance for them, with an ultra-impressive romp over Florida State in the Round of 32, followed by a 73-71 upset of Arizona on Thursday. Xavier upped its record to 24-13 straight-up and even its point spread mark at 18-18.
Gonzaga obviously brings some very impressive numbers into this game. On defense, they are ranked #1 in Adjusted Efficiency and Effective Field Goal Percentage. They are second-best in the nation defending the two-pointer, giving up only 39.7% accuracy, and they snuffed out the opposition from long-range, giving up 29.7% in three-pointers. They have imposing size in the middle, whether it comes from Przenek Karnowski or Zach Collins, the two seven-footers who kind of alternate playing time. And they are highly effective mixing up man and zone defenses.
While the Bulldogs may not be household words among most of the VietBet audience, they have slain a lot of dragons, including Arizona, Florida and Iowa State, not to mention scoring three very easy wins over St. Mary’s, a WCC rival which entered the NCAA Tournament with a national ranking.
But what Xavier has done is truly amazing. Here is a club that has shot 29% at Villanova and 31% at Baylor during the season, clearly missing the leadership of Sumner, but they have been sizzling from the floor during this tournament. In the opener against Maryland, they shot 50% in a 76-65 victory. Then they followed that up with 55.6% against Florida State in a resounding 91-66 romp. Then, against favored Arizona, they shot almost 57% in a 73-71 thriller. Florida State in Arizona hit a combined 11-48 from three-point range against them. That’s kind of surprising, since Xavier, on the entire season, is only 70th nationwide in three-point defense. Will things “regress to the mean”?
By Charles Jay
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