Today the Mississippi Rebels will tangle with the Xavier Musketeers at Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. The game has a start time of 4:10 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on TBS. Current Vegas betting odds have the Musketeers listed as 3 point favorites, while the total is set at 144.5.
Analysis: The Mississippi Rebels did not play well down the stretch as they had lost 4 of their last 5 games heading into the tournament. In their game vs BYU the Rebels found themselves down big at the half, but a 2nd half rally has propelled them onto the 2nd round with a date with Xavier. OLe Miss has gone 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games, but just 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record. The Rebels have been a good offensive team this year, ranking 46th in scoring (73.3 ppg), 219th in shooting (42.7%), 204th in 3 point shooting (33.7%) and 4th in FT shooting (77.4%). The defense for this team has not been so good this year, ranking 227th in points allowed (68.2 ppg), 61st in defensive FG% (40.2%) and 249th in 3 point defense (35.5%).
The Xavier Musketeers made it to the Big East Finals before bowing out to Villanova by 17 points. The Musketeers are 21-13 on the year, while finishing just 6th in the Big East during the regular season. Their overall body of work was good enough to get them in the tournament. This will be their 26th trip to the Big Dance and they have yet to make it past the Elite 8. The Musketeers have gone 18-6-2 ATS in their last 26 NCAA Tournament games and 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games vs the SEC. Xavier has been a good offensive team this year, as they come in ranked 43rd in scoring (73.6 ppg), 29th in shooting (47.3%), 152nd in 3 point shooting (34.9%) and 60th in FT shooting (72.5%). Defensively the Rams have not been that good this year, ranking 204th in points allowed (67.6 ppg), 214th in defensive FG% (43.8%) and 221st in 3 point defense (34.9%).
Pick: I like the Rebels in this one. I feel that their second half vs BYU has given them plenty of confidence and some momentum. Xavier had a good year, but also lot big to Villanova in the Big East title game. The defenses for these team are about equal, but Ole Miss gets rates the edge on the offensive end of the floor and they have a game under their belt as well. Should be a good game throughout, but I see Ole Miss making more plays down the stretch to pull this one out.
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Handicapping Tips: NCAA Tournament Round 1
Steve Fezzik and Teddy Covers from Pregame.com give some insight and tips on handicapping the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament.