The chalk followed suit in the West Regional with top seeds Syracuse and Kansas State both victorious. Each are a solid betting choice to meet in an Elite 8 matchup on Saturday, yet both will encounter clubs that are NCAA tournament tested and carrying a strong belief this is their chance to shine in what has been unpredictable tournament in 2010.
Syracuse vs Butler
The status of Arinze Onuaku is presently listed as doubtful, which doesn’t help the Orangemen (30-4, 21-9 ATS) as they look to move on in the tournament. Onuaku is a contributing scorer near the basket and though a mediocre free throw shooter, he still draws fouls against the opposing team and is exceptional rebounder in their 2-3 zone. His ability to control the glass has set up Syracuse to push the ball offensively, often finding the right player in motion towards the basket with a sharp, on-target pass they led to easier baskets for Orange shooters. Syracuse is 13-3 ATS in all tournament games over the last two seasons.
That leaves more of the burden to fall on Wesley Johnson and Rick Jackson specifically. Johnson has to rebound a little more and can’t cheat out quite as much on misfires from the opposition. Jackson in turn has to be the Windex-man (long-time Dick Vitale favorite saying) and has to work a little harder on the offensive glass for put-backs. Off their high-octane effort against Gonzaga (87-65), Syracuse is 8-1 ATS in road games after a blowout win by 20 points or more.
Butler (30-4, 12-20 ATS) is a six-point underdog, with total of 138.5 at Bookmaker.com. The Bulldogs are playing with a real swagger; a 22-game win streak will do that for team. In spite of their phenomenal success, Butler was often mentioned as a play against team in both the first two games in the tournament and they played unafraid even the face of real adversity. F-C Matt Howard sat a good portion of the second half with four fouls against Murray State, yet the Bulldogs actually built a lead during that time, spreading the floor offensively and getting points from a variety of scorers including versatile Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack.
Butler is ordinary three-point team (34.1 percent), nonetheless has players capable of tickling the twine and is 21-7 ATS as an underdog.
Xavier vs. Kansas State
The Wildcats from Manhattan are looking better all the time. Kansas State (28-7, 21-9 ATS) was considered a darkhorse for a top seed until losing twice in final week of the regular season. However, obstacles might be falling to the wayside for the Wildcats to be considered a real championship club. Their nemesis Kansas is flushed; Syracuse and West Virginia have either ailing starters or have lost them all together. The Cinderella’s are presumed to strike midnight before long, leaving only a few worthy contenders.
Stellar guard play is a must to survive and advance in March and coach Frank Martin just might have the most dynamic duo since Batman and Robin. Jacob Pullen or Denis Clemente are both capable of boiling over and scoring points at per minute clip. In the painted area, Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels can both produce big nights, particularly if they’re converting offensive rebounds into stick-backs. K-State is a 4.5-point favorite and is 18-6 ATS this season when bestowed with the honor.
Xavier’s is nobody’s fool, being only just one of two teams to make it to the Sweet 16 in each of the last three seasons along with Michigan State. Forget the talk of the Musketeers not being elite program. “I don’t feel like we’re a mid-major at all,” said senior Jason Love, having been a part of this ride. “You look at our schedule and we play some of the best teams in the country.”
Xavier (26-8, 22-11 ATS) is 8-1 ATS in a NCAA tournament games over the last three seasons and holds opposing teams to 40.7 percent shooting, yet are explosive enough to average almost 80 (79.3) points a contest. Sophomore guard Jordan Crawford led the A-10 in scoring with 19.6 points a game and has a complete package, being able find open teammates, defend effectively, and deliver big baskets when his team needs them throughout a game. Xavier is 14-3 ATS having won two of their last three games this campaign.
Two seeds are 18-5 SU taking on six seeds, with average winning margin 5.6 PPG.