Xavier vs. Kennesaw State: 2023 NCAA Tournament Best Bets & Picks

Mar 12, 2023 - 11:54 PM

March Madness is officially here! The 2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket has been announced, and the teams are lining up for the Big Dance. Let’s take a look at the early odds, preview, and predictions for the 2023 NCAA Tournament Round 1 game: Xavier vs. Kennesaw State.

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2023 NCAA Tournament Guide (March Madness)

2023 March Madness Odds, Preview & Predictions: Xavier vs. Kennesaw State

Xavier vs. Kennesaw State Odds, Spread & Match Up Overview

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Xavier 2023 NCAA Tournament Betting Preview

After starting the season 4-3, Xavier kicked it into overdrive, winning its next 11 games, with victories over West Virginia, Creighton, and Marquette. After Zach Freemantle went down for the year with a foot injury, it seemed as if this team was doomed, but Xavier finished the regular season 6-3 without him.

The Musketeers are led by their top-10 offense. With their ability to shoot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc and their preference for finding open looks near the rim, the Musketeers have a dynamic offense that can run with the best of the best. They have a ridiculous midrange game and score on second-chance looks at a top-25 rate. I would usually fade a team with this kind of makeup, but Xavier has been quite consistent all year, and six of its losses were by four points or fewer. Xavier is a few calls here and there from being in contention for a 1-seed.

Where Xavier’s offense thrives, its defense does not. Ranking outside the top 75, Sean Miller’s defense does not force many turnovers and allows teams to shoot well from beyond the arc. No Final Four team since 2012 has ranked outside the top 50 in defensive efficiency at the beginning of the tournament, and Xavier isn’t particularly close to the top 50. The Musketeers were also a much different team at home than they were on the road. Away from home, Xavier fell to teams like DePaul and Butler. I’m not exactly confident in the Musketeers’ ability to play on neutral courts. The ceiling is capped for this Xavier team due to its defensive inabilities. But with its fast pace and a high-powered offense, this team should be a lot of fun to watch in March.

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Kennesaw State 2023 NCAA Tournament Betting Preview

Who? Hoo. The Kennesaw State Owls will represent the ASUN conference in the NCAA tourney after winning 16 of their final 18 games, capped by an upset of Liberty in the ASUN title game.

The Owls are led by Terrell Burden, a facilitating guard, and Chris Youngblood, a sharpshooting forward who can drive and finish at the basket as well. This is a physical team that can also light it up from deep. There is a ton of experience on this team, which makes it easier to understand how the Owls finished the season so well. Any offensive-based team the Owls face may be surprised by their physicality, but Kennesaw State will have to shoot well from deep if it hopes to advance past the first round.

Xavier vs. Kennesaw State 2023 NCAA Tournament Predictions

Kennesaw State is one of the great redemption stories in college basketball. The Owls were one of the worst programs in the country two years ago, and now have made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. They’ll look to continue this dream season against the Big East regular season and tournament runner-ups. Both teams shoot the three exceptionally well, but both teams rank outside the top-200 in 3-point defense. The Musketeers and Owls also rank inside the top 115 in tempo, and we know how much the Musketeers like to run. After putting up a clunker in the Big East Tournament final, I could see Xavier looking to make a statement early on. At -12.5, this line feels about right. But the over will be worth a look.

Xavier vs. Kennesaw State 2023 NCAA Tournament Picks

Over 155.5

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