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The #11 seeded Pittsburgh Panthers play the #3 seeded Xavier Musketeers on Sunday in the NCAA tournament round of 32 in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum. Pittsburgh reached the round of 32 in the tournament with a 59-41 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones on Friday and has won three of the last four. Xavier opened its Big Dance with a 72-67 come from behind victory over Kennesaw State on Friday and has won six of the last seven. Pittsburgh does not have any players on its injury report. Xavier will play without Kam Craft, Zach Fremantle and Kyky Tandy.
Pittsburgh's defense is hard to beat
Pittsburgh has won each of its first two games in the NCAA tournament after defeating Mississippi State 60-59 in the First Four followed by a win over Iowa State 59-41 on Friday. The Panthers held Iowa State to just 23% shooting overall and 10% (2-for-21) from 3-point territory. During the regular season, Pittsburgh allowed an average of 69.3 points per game and only 41.8% field goal shooting, which was 66th. On offense, Pittsburgh averages 75.9 points per game and shoots 45.1%, but in two postseason games, they are averaging 59.5 points per game.
Let’s gooooo @Pitt_MBB 💙💛 #H2P https://t.co/gcaaLDEjrF— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_WBB) March 18, 2023
Jamarius Burton is leading Pittsburgh in scoring with an average of 15.2 points per game while Blake Hinson is the second-leading scorer with an average of 15.1 points per game. Two other players for Pittsburgh average double figures in scoring. Nelly Cummings is the leader in assists with an average of 4.7 dishes per contest. Hinson is the king of the boards for Pittsburgh with an average of 6.1 rebounds per game. Pittsburgh averages 5.2 steals, 4.1 blocked shots and 11 turnovers per contest
Xavier is struggling from long range
Xavier trailed by seven points at halftime to Kennesaw State in its opening game of the tournament and part of the problem was poor shooting from long range as the Musketeers were 2-for-12 from behind the three-point line. They shot just 17% from three, while hitting 46% of their overall shots. During the regular season, Xavier shot 50.0% overall and 39.8% from 3-point territory, while scoring an average of 82.1 points per game. Xavier's defense allowed an average of 74.5 points per game at 44.3% shooting.
𝗔𝗗𝗔𝗠 𝗞𝗨𝗡𝗞𝗘𝗟 𝗙𝗢𝗥 𝗧𝗛𝗥𝗘𝗘.— Xavier Basketball (@XavierMBB) March 17, 2023
Souley Boum is the leading scorer for Xavier with an average of 16.5 points per game, while second leading scorer Zach Freemantle (15.2 ppg) is out, injured. The third leading scorer is Colby Jones with an average of 15.1 points per game. Two other players are averaging double figures in scoring for Xavier. Boum is the leader in assists with an average of 4.3 per contest and Jack Nunge is the active leader in rebounding with an average of 7.9 rebounds per game as the injured Freemantle was the leading rebounder with an average of 8.1 per game. Xavier averages 6.5 steals, 3.2 block shots and 12.6 turnovers per game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Pittsburgh is allowing an average of just 50.0 points per game in its first two games of the NCAA tournament as the Panthers' defense has tightened. Pittsburgh held Iowa State to 23% shooting overall and 10% shooting from long range. Xavier is a strong shooting team, hitting 50% of its field goal attempts during a regular season, but against first-round opponent, Kennesaw State, shot only 17% from behind the three-point line. They cannot afford to shoot poorly against the Panthers. Pittsburgh has covered the spread in 23 of its last 30 and in four of the last five against a team with a winning percentage above 600. Xavier struggled down the stretch to cover the spread, failing to cover the spread in four of its last five. In intangibles, Xavier must play without Zach Freemantle, who before being injured was the second-leading scorer and leading rebounder for the Musketeers. Freemantle was also one of the court leaders.
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Full-Game Total Pick
Pittsburgh is scoring an average of only 59.5 points per game and allowing an average of only 50.0 points per game in its two NCAA tournament games. The total has finished under each of the last five games that Pittsburgh has played in the NCAA tournament. The total has finished under in four of the last five games that Xavier has faced an opponent with a winning percentage above .600. In Xavier's victory over Kennesaw State, the Musketeers shot only 17% from 3-point territory.