The Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament continues on Friday night. The No. 10 seed Xavier Musketeers take on No. 3 seed Baylor Bears in the South Regional. The game is scheduled for a 7:15 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds have Baylor favored by 6 points with the total for the game is at 142 points.
Free Analysis: Baylor is one win away from its second regional finals appearance in three seasons. Xavier, on the other hand, is playing in the round of 16 for the fourth time in five years. Only Kansas, Michigan State and North Carolina can share that claim. Baylor, much like Kentucky, is looking to win a national championship this season. It's hard to tell whether or not Xavier has what it takes to win the tournament, but as far as tonight's contest goes, the Musketeers believe they can beat Baylor. "We're playing for the national championship even though we're not expected to win one," Baylor's Perry Jones III said. "We weren't expected to be here now." The Musketeers Dezmine Wells is going to be a huge asset to this game as far as I'm concerned. He busted up one of his toes last weekend but still was able to continue to shoot the ball well enough to where it looked as if he wasn't in discomfort. The freshman swingman is averaging more than 10 points per game and give the Musketeers another good option. Coach Chris Mack said he's going to be a game-time decision. "I'm hopeful that he'll give it a go," Mack said. "I think he's very hopeful that he'll give it a go. But how effective he is will be another story. We'll keep our fingers crossed and say some prayers." Musketeer backers are going to be hopeful that he can give it a go as well. Along with high-scoring guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons, Xavier is probably better overall in the backcourt than what Baylor can bring to the table. Holloway averages more than 17 points per contest while Lyons brings 15 points per game. That's a pretty good scoring backcourt with Wells in the lineup as well. Forward Andre Walker did not practice on Thursday after he was hit in the head against Notre Dame last weekend. He played only 20 minutes against Lehigh and should be available against Baylor, according to Mack. Xavier, a 10 seed in the tournament, isn't looking at this game as them being an underdog. In fact, they often are feeling disrespected. "Sometimes I'm offended," Holloway said. "We're still, quote, mid-majors, but we continue to have success against the major teams that we play against in the power conferences. It is what it is. At this point, we're just here to advance. If we're being called the Cinderella, OK." Baylor has risen from the ashes when the program was nearly put on death row because of sanctions. The Bears beat up on Colorado in their last game. Brady Heslip made 9 of 12 3-pointers for a career-high 27 points in the contest, ending the Buffs' season in the second round. That outside shooting could continue to cause problems tonight. Baylor has a pretty athletic front line as well, which could be an advantage over the bigger, slower front line for Xavier. I don't think Heslip is going to be able to continue to shoot that well tonight as he averages just over 10 points per game. The thing I love at this point in the season is guard play, and I believe Xavier has a distinct advantage at that spot on the floor. Great guard play wins in the tournament and I believe the Musketeers have three guards better than anyone on Baylor's squad.
Free Pick: Scoop up the points with Xavier, they are more battle tested at this point in the season and guards win when you get this deep in the tournament. I like the trio of Lyons, Holloway and Wells, whom I believe will be able to play tonight. Sure, Baylor is more athletic in the front court, but overall I think Xavier causes matchup problems for them. Baylor is the better team overall because of their ranking and seeding, but if they are head and shoulders better than the Musketeers, shoudn't they be favored by more than six points? I'll take Xavier.
Free Picks: Xavier vs Baylor Betting
Xavier matches up well size wise with Baylor and Baylor's athleticism is different than other teams plus other factors college basketball bettors need to know about Xavier vs Baylor (Friday, March 23, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Scott Spreitzer and analysis from host Vegas Runner.