The March Madness action keeps rolling on Friday with more first-round games. No. 3 seed Xavier kicks off its campaign with a tricky spot against No. 14 seed Kennesaw State in the Midwest region.
The game tips off at 12:40 p.m. ET and can be seen on truTV and streamed on March Madness Live.
The two will face off at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Xavier Musketeers (25-9) went 15-5 in the competitive Big East Conference. The Kennesaw State Owls (26-8) won the Atlantic Sun championship.
Let’s take a look at how these two teams matchup.
Xavier vs. Kennesaw St.: Preview
Xavier has been one of the more consistent teams this season. The Musketeers have won five of their last six games, dropping the Big East tournament title game to red-hot Marquette.
Xavier compiled an 11-game win streak during the middle of the season.
The Musketeers possess one of the best offenses in the game. They average 81.4 points per game, which is 16th in the country.
As a team, they also love to move the ball, averaging 19.3 assists per game. That number is the second-best in Division I. This team can crash the glass as well, posting 37.6 rebounds per game, 62nd best out of 352.
Most of Xavier’s stumbles came in close games, going 5-5 in contests decided by three points or less.
This is one of the most well-rounded squads in the tournament field. Four players average at least 14 points a game, led by senior guard Souley Boum, who finished the season with 16.5 ppg. Five different players have been the leading scorer for Xavier in a game this season.
All signs point towards Xavier moving on, but the Kennesaw State Owls should not be overlooked.
The Owls have won five in a row and eight of their last nine. They have beaten fellow ASUN contenders Liberty twice this season and only lost to Atlantic 10 champion Virginia Commonwealth by three points.
This team is capable on the defensive end, holding opponents to 68.9 ppg. They are led by junior guard Chris Youngblood, who averages 14.7 ppg and 4.8 rpg.
Xavier vs. Kennesaw St: Prediction
Spread: Xavier (-12.5)
Total (O/U): 153.5
Moneyline: Xavier (-750) vs. Kennesaw St. (+525)
Xavier is too balanced and has plenty of options if Bouley or another star goes cold from the field. The experience of playing through a rugged Big Ten should help them pull through, although its record in close games is worrying.
Kennesaw State can keep it close but does not have the depth to prevail against Xavier's superior talent in what should be an exciting March Madness matchup.
Xavier 74, Kennesaw St. 66