The Xavier Musketeers & Texas A&M Aggies will square off at Madison Square Garden this Thursday night in the Championship Game of the NIT.
The Xavier Musketeers improved to 22-13 on the season after defeating the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, 84-77, this past Tuesday night. Xavier was outstanding on both ends of the court in the 1st half against St. Bonaventure and was able to hold off the Bonnies for the victory after going into halftime with a 38-23 lead. Leading the way for the Xavier was Jack Nunge who had 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, & 1 block. Prior to their victory against St. Bonaventure, Xavier was able to get to NIT finals with victories over Cleveland State, Florida, & Vanderbilt.
On the season, Xavier is averaging 74.1 ppg on 45.0% shooting from the field. The Musketeers are averaging 6.7 three-pointers per game on 32.1% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, Xavier has been led by Jack Nunge (13.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.4 bpg), Paul Scruggs (11.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.5 spg), Colby Jones (11.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.5 spg), & Zach Freemantle (10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.2 apg).
Defensively, Xavier is allowing their opponents to average 69.1 ppg on 42.4% shooting from the field. The Musketeers have a rebound margin of 2.8 and a turnover margin of 1.0.
The Texas A&M Aggies improved to 27-12 on the season after defeating the Washington State Cougars, 72-56, this past Tuesday night. Texas A&M was lights out defensively against Washington State and was able to pull way in the 2nd half after taking a 54-36 lead with 12:54 left in regulation. Leading the way for the Aggies was Quenton Jackson who had 18 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block, & 2 steals. Prior to their victory over Washington State, Texas A&M was able to get to NIT finals with victories over Alcorn State, Oregon, & Wake Forest.
On the season, Texas A&M is averaging 72.7 ppg on 44.3% shooting from the field. The Aggies are averaging 6.5 three-pointers per game on 32.4% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, Texas A&M has been led by Quenton Jackson (14.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.8 spg), Henry Coleman III (11.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.3 spg), Tyrece Radford (10.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg), & Wade Taylor IV (8.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 spg).
Defensviely, Texas A&M is holding their opponents to an average of 65.9 ppg on 41.2% shooting from the field. The Aggies have a rebound margin of 0.7 and a turnover margin of 3.9.
The Musketeers are 35-14-2 ATS in their last 51 neutral site games as an underdog & 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record. The Aggies are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win & 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall.
Xavier has been led by their offense which ranks 92nd in scoring offense & 115th in FG%, however, the Musketeers defense has struggled at times as it comes into this game ranked just 176th in scoring defense. Texas A&M has been led by their defense which ranks 72nd in scoring defense, 62nd in defensive FG%, & 13th in turnover margin while also being decent on the offensive end, ranking 129th in scoring offense.
Xavier has fared better than I expected so far in the NIT, however, they are going up against a very good Texas A&M team that has been playing their best basketball of the season over the last month. Texas A&M, in my opinion, should have made the NCAA Tournament over Wyoming, and between the fact that I think their defense gives Xavier trouble and that the Aggies have just crushed everyone they have seen so far in the NIT, I think Texas A&M will come of this matchup as the NIT Champions and do enough to cover this spread. Good Luck!
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