A spot in the Final Four is on the line on Saturday, as the #11 Xavier Musketeers take on the #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs in the final of the West Region on TBS. The Musketeers have become this year’s NCAA Tournament Cinderella team, as they have taken out #3 Florida State and #2 Arizona. Now they get a shot at the top seed in the West, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Neither Xavier nor Gonzaga has ever made the Final Four so history is going to be made. Let’s look at Saturday’s matchup and Elite Eight picks.
The Musketeers play the Bulldogs on Saturday, March 25th in the final of the West region at the SAP Center in San Jose, California with a start time of 6:09 pm Eastern on TBS.
Elite Eight Odds
Gonzaga -8.5, total 145.5
Xavier vs. Gonzaga
The Musketeers just continue to amaze, as they just won’t go away. They beat Maryland as a slight underdog, throttled Florida State as a 7-point underdog and beat Arizona as a 7.5-point dog. Xavier is looking to become just the fourth #11 seed in history to reach the Final Four.
Xavier showed a lot of heart on Thursday night, as they came from eight points down with under four minutes left to shock Arizona. The Musketeers closed the game on a 9-0 run. Xavier was not thought of a team that could win after losing their best player, Edmond Sumner but the Musketeers came together about a month ago and they are now tough as nails. They have a marquee shooter in Trevon Bluiett and a solid supporting cast.
Gonzaga is one win away from getting a huge monkey off their back. Head coach Mark Few has been known as a very good coach who can’t get his team to the Final Four. This is the second time in three years that Gonzaga has made the Elite Eight. If they don’t make the Final Four it will be considered a massive failure, perhaps even greater than Arizona not making it.
Gonzaga has benefited from a relatively easy path to the Final Four. They got past South Dakota State in the first round and then handled newcomer Northwestern in the second round. They benefited in the Sweet Sixteen by playing a West Virginia team that was coached by Bob Huggins and that meant a lot of defense but very little intelligent play. Now the Bulldogs have to face a Xavier team that is extremely well coached by Chris Mack.
The Musketeers are 24-5-1 ATS in their last 30 NCAA Tournament games. The Bulldogs are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. the Big East. The Bulldogs are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games. The Under is 5-1-1 in the Musketeers last 7 overall. The Under is 6-2 in the Bulldogs last 8 NCAA Tournament games.
Elite Eight Picks
I have had a pretty good feel for the West region so far and hopefully that continues with the final. I have been really impressed with Xavier, as they have the best player in this game in Bluiett and they have the better coach in Mack. I am shocked the line is nearly double-digits, as I think Xavier can win this game outright. I am a little concerned about an emotional letdown for the Musketeers after they beat Arizona but I am not sold on Gonzaga. I thought they would play better against the Mountaineers but they didn’t and were lucky to get past West Virginia. I will take the points with Xavier on Saturday.