Offense Should Be Tough To Come By At Barclays

Xavier vs. Iowa State Odds

The NIT Season Tip-Off starts Wednesday night at Barclays Center, Brooklyn. It features a doubleheader between Memphis & Virginia Tech, preceded Xavier & Iowa State.

The event has been won by all four teams, but the Barclays Center will only be able to award one win.

Xavier scored an impressive victory at home against Ohio State and followed that up with a dominant win at home against Norfolk State. The Musketeers are showing signs of improvement after two slow games against Kent State, Niagara, and Norfolk State which saw them trailing for much of the second and in danger at the end.

Xavier is still without Zach Freemantle. Xavier has relied upon its interior defense and that will be a challenge to Iowa State.

The Cyclones are also unbeaten to start the T.J. Otzelberger era of Ames. They have a solid home win over Oregon State in the second match of the season. After some bad seasons, the program is currently in rebuilding mode and the offense will be tested on Wednesday night.

Xavier’s interior defense has carried the team thus far through four games. The Musketeers have allowed only the 13th-lowest effective field goal rates in the country. This is due to teams shooting just 36.1% from within the arc against them.

This includes a game against a top Ohio State offense that runs an efficient motion offense to generate open look.

Transfer Jack Nunge (Iowa) has made a big step forward this season, particularly on the defensive side with his ability alter and block shots in midfield.

Senior wing Paul Scruggs is as good of a defender as you’ll find in college basketball and is nationally ranked in both steal and block percentage early in the season.

The Musketeers are long — 32nd in height. They are also good at rebounding and do a great job of chasing down opponents from the 3-point line.

Until Freemantle returns from injury next month or maybe in January, the Musketeers’ offense may struggle a bit to consistently score.

Scruggs is a good option to create for himself and super senior Nate Johnson has an excellent 3-point shot, but the Musketeers don’t really create easy offense from anywhere right now.

This makes them difficult to back against high quality opposition.

Turnovers were an issue for the Musketeers at the beginning of the season. They have been an issue every season under Chris Steele, except one.

They rely heavily on second-chance looks when they do get shots up because they’re not that efficient, but far too often the Musketeers have empty possessions.

Iowa State was the worst Power 5 team last season, and it had a strong case. The Cyclones won 2 games against Jackson State and Arkansas, Pine Bluff, but lost every other game.

ISU finished 2-22 overall, 0-18 in Big 12 play, and lost its first round conference tournament game. The Cyclones fired Steve Prohm and hired Otzelberger, a move that was criticized by some given that UNLV didn’t exactly thrive in his two seasons with the program.

But the early signs for the Cyclones are encouraging as they have doubled last year’s season win total already.

Izaiah Brockington, a Penn State transferee, joined the program. Freshman point guard Tyrese Hunt has impressive assist numbers so far. Experienced shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur arrived from Minnesota.

Iowa State is undersized and could be a problem in this game as it attempts to score points. The offense has very little shooting ability, with only one player shooting over 35% from beyond arc last season.

The Cyclones have only made 30.2% from beyond the arc against terrible competition and Xavier’s defense has size advantages to prevent them from getting to the interior.

Where Iowa State has produced decent numbers is on the defensive end, and even last season when the wheels came off the program, they were still an above average defense that just couldn’t score the ball.

Xavier vs. Iowa State Betting Pick

Given Iowa State’s lacking size and shooting ability, it’s hard to see how it consistently scores against Xavier’s elite interior defense. If you can’t force Xavier to respect jump shooting, it’s going to be very hard to sustain offense on the inside against Scruggs, Nunge and forward Jerome Hunter.

Iowa State’s offensive numbers are improved but the talent just isn’t there. Both teams have turnover problems, both teams are good at defensive rebounding well, and neither team has had much success shooting beyond the 3-point line or is a good jump-shooting squad.

Despite the above average pace, offense efficiency will not be high for either team. I’d take an under to 135.5 or better.

Choose: Below 137.5 (play up to 135.5).

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