Big East Tournament 2021: Betting Tips for Round 1 Odds, Spreads and Over-UnderMarch 10, 2021
The Xavier Musketeers have been mired in a rut that pushed them to the edge of the NCAA men's basketball tournament bubble.
On Wednesday, Xavier can begin its final push to get into the field of 68 with one of the few Big East teams it actually had success against in the regular season.
Xavier beat the Butler Bulldogs in both head-to-head meetings this season and is listed as a six-point favorite to move on to the quarterfinals.
The Providence Friars are the biggest favorite on the three-game slate for its matchup against the league's worst team, the DePaul Blue Demons.
The opener between the Georgetown Hoyas and Marquette Golden Eagles could carry the most intrigue, and the winner of that contest may be able to make a run at Madison Square Garden since the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats are dealing with injuries.
Big East Tournament 1st-Round Schedule
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
No. 8 Georgetown vs. No. 9 Marquette (-3) (Over/Under 143.5) (3 p.m. ET, FS1)
No. 7 Xavier (-6) vs. No. 10 Butler (O/U: 133.5) (6 p.m. ET, FS1)
No. 6 Providence (-7) vs. No. 11 DePaul (O/U: 132.5) (9 p.m. ET, FS1)
Xavier (-6) vs. Butler
Xavier's pair of double-digit wins over Butler make up two of the team's three wins in the last eight games. The Musketeers also earned a victory over the Creighton Bluejays in that stretch.
Due to their inconsistency, the Musketeers dropped to the "last four in" line on the projected bracket from ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi.
Xavier is one of three Big East teams that has work to do in New York to solidify its Big Dance status, and it is the only member of the trio in the bottom half of the bracket.
The Musketeers should experience an easy start at Madison Square Garden against a team that averages 12 fewer points per game.
The key to earning a third win over Butler is defending the three-point line. The Bulldogs shot a combined 11-for-56 from three-point range and did not shoot above 35 percent from the field in their two losses to Xavier.
The three-point struggles are not exclusive to games against Xavier, as they made just five of their 26 three-point attempts in their regular-season finale against Creighton.
While the Bulldogs have five players who average over 10 points per game, Xavier's top players score at a higher volume. Zach Freemantle and Paul Scruggs would both be the leading scorer on the Butler roster.
Freemantle scored at least 12 points in six of his last seven games, and Scruggs had 18 points or more in three of his last four.
If Xavier's two best scorers take advantage of their familiarity with Butler's defense and push their team out to an early lead, they could move forward to another double-digit win over the Bulldogs to set up a clash with Creighton.
Marquette (- 3) vs. Georgetown
The winner of the Georgetown-Marquette game has a chance to be the Big East's bracket-buster since Villanova will be without Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore.
To get to the quarterfinals, the winner of the matchup will likely have to grind out a victory in what is expected to be the tightest first-round game.
Marquette comes into New York with four wins in its last five games. Each of those triumphs were by six points or more, including a double-digit nonconference victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Golden Eagles did not beat the best teams in the Big East during that stretch, but they gained some valuable confidence heading into the conference tournament.
Marquette also has a four-point win over Georgetown on its resume. In that game, Jamal Cain, who is averaging 9.7 points per game, posted 25 points with four three-pointers.
Three Marquette players have double-digit point averages above Cain on the scoring chart, and D.J. Carton could be the member of the trio who breaks out in New York.
The Ohio State transfer eclipsed the 15-point mark in three of the last four games and has six performances with 15 or more points since the start of February.
Georgetown gives up 73.4 points per game and is coming off a 98-point concession to the UConn Huskies.
If the Hoyas do not improve their defense, they could be susceptible to an early exit in New York, while Marquette could have the chance to get hot and spring an upset versus a depleted top seed.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.
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