How to Bet This Gavitt Games Clash

Indiana vs. Xavier odds

The Gavitt Games feature many high-level matchups.

But in my opinion, this game takes the cake.

Indiana is the consensus favorite to win the Big Ten, even after finishing 9-11 in league play last season. The Hoosiers are 2-0 on the season with dominant wins over lower-major teams, but that gives us little insight.

Currently, Xavier is beginning his second stint with head coach Sean Miller. After several disappointing seasons with Arizona, Miller is looking to revive his career and Xavier’s championship hopes.

There are some fun storylines here to summarize. But where lies the betting value?

Indiana has met expectations through two games, as the numbers are more than excellent.

However, we have to dig deeper to see what Indiana is all about this season. I made a few comments.

First, Trace Jackson-Davis didn’t drop off a bit. He is posting 18 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 71.4% from the field. He even grabbed six offensive rebounds against Bethune-Cookman.

Second, Miller Kopp looks good to start the season. His spot-up shooting could make the difference for this Indiana team, and he went 4-for-6 from deep against Bethune-Cookman.

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Thirdly, and most importantly, I am still very low on the backcourt.

Jalen Hood-Schifino and Xavier Johnson have done little-to-nothing through Indiana’s first two games. The Hoosiers lived and died with Johnson and the backcourt last season, winning when the guards played well and losing when they played poorly.

The duo has dished out plenty of assists through two games and limited turnovers, but they’re mostly just dumping the ball to the post. Meanwhile, they have contributed nothing to score.

I could be proven wrong. But until Indiana provides consistent, high-level guard play, I’m selling the Hoosiers.

It’s hard to doubt the defense, as Indiana allowed just .664 PPP in half-court play in the first two games. I expect this to be a top-10 defensive unit this season.

But I wouldn’t have to miss Indiana.

Xavier has an incredibly high floor.

Jack Nunge is one of the best bigs in college basketball. He is a 7-foot athletic center who rebounds efficiently and smothers opposing ball handlers around the rim.

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But Nunge could take a step forward this season. He averaged 13.4 points per game last season with a 127 ortg, but is up to 18.4 points with a 132 ortg through two games this season.

It’s early, but Nunge looks incredible in the middle of Miller’s team.

Surrounding Nunge is a trio of starters from last year’s team, including Adam Kunkel, Colby Jones and Zach Freemantle.

Again, high floor.

However, there are a few issues.

First, the bank is young and unproven. The biggest bench scorers are freshmen Desmond Claude and Kam Craft.

Second, Freemantle and Nunge are a liability as a defensive frontcourt. It’s hard for them to defend on the perimeter against stretch offenses, whether it’s motion or a ball screen.

Finally, I’m still not convinced that Souley Boum is Paul Scruggs re-incarnated. He’s been incredible through two games, but the UTEP transfer is about to enter the danger zone against Indiana.

Indiana vs Xavier betting pick

The game opened Indiana -1.5 and the Hoosiers immediately took all the money. At the time of writing, Indiana is rated as high as -3 in some books.

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However, I’d rather skip a side altogether and bet the total.

Those two offenses have looked stellar, but they haven’t faced a KenPom top-200 team yet.

More specifically, none of the opposing teams have the size to counter Nunge or Jackson-Davis. The offenses were able to slow it down and let the big men cook.

The two frontcourts went to battle on Friday night. The Nunge-Davis and Freemantle-Thompson battles will be a slog.

This means that the difference in this matchup will be decided in the backcourt, between a quartet of guards I have no faith in.

So if Johnson and Boom step into a big game. And so be it if freshmen Hood-Schifino and Claude step onto primetime television.

I’m not buying it. Everyone should struggle to score in their first big test, especially against two top-tier college basketball defenses led by elite rim protectors.

I will happily buy the sub in this number, and I will look for something better than 142.

Choose: Under 144 (-110 at Caesars Sportsbook)


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