- Xavier Musketeers aim to build on huge season-opening win as they host the Bradley Braves as 7.5-point favorites
- Musketeers routed Oakland 101-49 on Wednesday, while Bradley needed a buzzer beater to eke out a narrow win over Toledo
- We’ve got you covered with the odds and trends ahead of this Xavier Invitational tournament matchup on Thanksgiving Day at Cintas Center
The Xavier Musketeers will be aiming to build on a dominating 101-49 season-opening win over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies when they return to action as 7.5-point home favorites on Thanksgiving Day against the Bradley Braves. The Musketeers enjoy home court advantage as the hosts of the Xavier Invitational, a four-team tournament taking place at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
The Braves face off against Xavier for the first time since 1958, when they met in the quarter-finals at that year’s National Invitational Tournament. Bradley also opened their season on Wednesday with a win, eking out a narrow 61-59 victory over the Toledo Rockets, but failing to pay out as 2.5-point chalk.
Bradley Braves vs Xavier Musketeers Odds
|Bradley Braves||+7.5 (-110)||+285||O 136.5 (-110)|
|Xavier Musketeers||-7.5 (-110)||-355||U 136.5 (-110)|
Odds from FanDuel on Nov. 25, 2020.
Musketeers Open Season in Spectacular Fashion
After averaging a middling 70.7 points per game last season, and seeing veterans Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones leave the program, concerns lingered about the Musketeers’ ability to generate offense. But scoring was not a concern as Xavier piled on the points in Wednesday’s crushing win over Oakland, with sophomore forward Zach Freemantle leading the way with a career high 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Musketeers topped 100 points for the first time since 2017.
— Xavier Gameday (@XavierGameday) November 25, 2020
With Wednesday’s win, the Musketeers improve to a spectacular 52-1 SU in 53 November home contests since 2004, with 41 of those victories coming by double-digit margins. While the red-hot start is welcome, albeit against a Horizon League opponent that opens the season lagging at No. 283 in the Kenpom ratings, the Musketeers still have work to do to overcome a disappointing stretch on home court at the end of last season, which they closed out on a 3-5 SU run.
Xavier has also been a huge betting disappointment at home over the past year. The Musketeers failed to cover in consecutive home games last season while racking up a 5-9-1 ATS record, including a shaky 2-4-1 ATS mark while favored by seven or more points. Expected to be a key contributor on offense this season, senior guard Paul Scruggs opened the season in disappointing fashion, going 3-for-10 from the field for seven points, well short of the 12.7 points per game he averaged last season.
Bradley Shows Rust in Slow Start vs Toledo
The Braves open the new season with high expectations after shaking up their roster during the offseason. With leading scorer Darrell Brown departing, the Braves went the transfer route to make up the team-leading 15.5 points per game he contributed last season. Guard Sean East joins the squad after averaging 9.3 points, 4.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game as a freshman at UMass last season, while guard Terry Nolan averaged 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last season in his second campaign at George Washington, in 2018-2019.
Former #UMass PG Sean East has committed to the Bradley Braves as a transfer
Braves have been a very solid team coming out of the MVC hoop conference and are closer to home for East https://t.co/LGMmE8DqhP
— Fight Massachusetts (@FightMA247) April 3, 2020
Junior forward Elijah Childs emerged as the Braves’ top scorer in their narrow victory over Toledo on Wednesday, draining 14 points to go along with six rebounds and four steals, but it was hardly a dominating debut for East and Nolan. The duo combined to score 18 points, including just nine points during a dismal first half, which Bradley finished trailing 28-20. The Braves showed dramatic improvement in the second half, going on an early 11-4 run to get back in the game, and finally sealing the win with a buzzer beater from Nolan. However, they can ill afford such a slow start against the Musketeers, particularly on Xavier’s home court.
TERRY NOLAN JR!!!!!!!
— Bradley Basketball (@bradleyumbb) November 25, 2020
While Bradley is likely to continue showing steady improvement as their new group gels, that won’t come overnight. And with the Musketeers sleeping in their own beds after opening the season in dominating fashion, look for them to carry that momentum into Thanksgiving Day action.
The Pick: Xavier -7.5 (-110)
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