Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#651 Florida vs.
#652 Xavier
Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 5:30pm EST
Written by Mark Ruelle

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The Florida Gators and Xavier Musketeers get set for a late afternoon matchup on Thanksgiving in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament in Portland, Oregon. Florida, out of the SEC, comes into the tournament 3-1 on the season. The Musketeers, out of the Big East, are also 3-1 on the young season. The opening tap is scheduled for 5:30pm EST.

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Thanksgiving on the Road

The Florida Gators leave the warm and sunny confines of Gainesville for the cooler temps of Oregon to take part in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament. The Gators have won three of their first four games this season, dropping their only game to Florida Atlantic in a two-point home loss. On Friday night, in their toughest test to date, the Gators downed Florida State 76-67 on the road. The victory was made even more impressive by the fact that the Gators trailed by 17 points at halftime. The second half was a complete turnaround as Florida scored 33 of the first 38 points to start the half and held on for a victory. Colin Castleton led the way with 25 points and nine rebounds in the come-from-behind win. He was helped out by guard Will Richard who added 13 points and six rebounds. The Gators' turnaround came thanks to the team's improved shooting. After shooting just 28% in the first half, the Gators bounced back to shoot 52% in the second half.  The Gators also pulled out a pressure defense in the second half that resulted in 11 second-half Seminoles turnovers.

"We're not a big full-court pressure team and I've never been a big full-court pressure coach," Florida head coach Todd Golden said. "But certain games call for certain things."

Florida, at 3-1, has a 13.3 average point differential thus far through four games. They are shooting just 44% from the field and hitting 36% of their 3pt shots. The Gators have been tough on the glass with an average rebounding differential of +9.3 thus far. They are also +1.0 in turnover differential thus far, although the Gators are not prone to put on much pressure. The Gators are allowing teams to shoot just 40% from the field and 33% from long range.

X-Men Unleashed

The 3-1 Xavier Musketeers invade Oregon on Thanksgiving looking for a power-five conference win over Florida and suffering a thrilling two-point loss to Indiana in the Gavitt Tip-off Games on Friday night, 81-79. Trailing by eight points with just over 2:00 left, the Musketeers battled back by going on a 9-2 run to close the gap to just one point with under a minute to play. Unfortunately, a driving layup by the Musketeers rimmed out and they were forced to foul, giving the win to the #12 Hoosiers. Souley Bou and Zach Freemantle each had 15 points to lead the Musketeers. Five different players scored in double digits for Xavier in the game.

Xavier has an average point differential of +14 on the season. The Musketeers are very efficient on offense, shooting the ball at 52% overall and an impressive 44% from beyond the arc. Xavier has an average rebound differential of +6 on the season but is not a team that will force the action defensively, with just a +.3 turnover differential. On the defensive end, the Musketeers have held teams to 42% shooting overall and 35% from the 3pt line.

 

 

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Neither of these two teams plays an aggressive style of defense that causes turnovers so it will come down to rebounding and shooting. The Musketeers hold a distinct advantage in shooting the basketball thus far, both from inside the arc and beyond. Xavier also can match up with Florida on the glass so will not be dominated by second and third shot opportunities. Xavier is the more efficient team on both ends of the floor thus far and should be able to pull out a surprisingly comfortable win in this one.

Take Xavier.

Prediction: Xavier -1.5

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Xavier and Florida are both playing at a Top-100 pace thus far this season and neither possesses a defense that will force a ton of turnovers. Therefore, this game will ultimately come down to shotmaking and each team will get a good number of shots up. With that in mind, expect a fair amount of points scored by two efficient offenses.

Take the over.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.