Xavier and Gonzaga are known for their basketball, but neither has ever reached a Final Four in NCAA tournament history. That changes in San Jose on Saturday night, when the two meet in the West regional final. Gonzaga is once again favored, but Xavier have covered as an underdog in five straight games.
Here’s a closer look at the odds for the Elite Eight matchup, as well as a prediction for the outcome:
Gonzaga vs. Xavier Elite Eight Odds
Spread: Gonzaga (-8), per OddsShark.com
Moneyline: Gonzaga (-360), Xavier (+300)
Gonzaga Record Against the Spread: 23-10-2
Xavier Record Against the Spread: 18-18-1
Head-to-Head History: Gonzaga is undefeated in three meetings dating back to 2006, with the most recent victory coming in December 2011.
Preview & Prediction
Xavier has continued to outperform expectations in this tournament, and they’ve been doing it by being efficient on offense. Xavier has been scoring 1.21 points per possession in the tournament, and the team is making 63 percent of their two-point shots. That, combined with bursts of stifling defense, have propelled the Musketeers in each round of the bracket. Arizona looked to be cruising to victory in their previous matchup, only for Xavier to outscore their opponent 9-0 over the final 2:52 of the game.
Gonzaga, it’s safe to say, has not been as efficient on offense. The team is shooting just 29 percent from three during the tournament, well below their rate for the season (37.4 percent). To counter this, the Zags have been exceptional on defense. Teams are shooting just 37 percent against them inside the arc, as the Bulldogs have had the size advantage in the paint throughout the tournament. Przemek Karnowski does a great job of clogging the paint, but he can’t do much if the Musketeers are hitting their shots from the outside.
After committing 16 turnovers and still beating Press Virginia, the Zags look ready to finally get over the hump and reach the Final Four. But Xavier has been outstanding over the last two weeks, and they should keep things close. I like Gonzaga, but Xavier should cover the spread.
Prediction: Gonzaga 76, Xavier 71