The lone top-25 matchup on Wednesday in college basketball features No. 17 Providence visiting No. 16 Xavier. The teams are part of a three-way tie atop the Big East at 9-2 with Marquette. The Musketeers' chances of winning the regular-season title, however, have taken a major hit with star power forward Zach Freemantle to miss at least four weeks with a left foot injury. Xavier is -4 at Caesars Sportsbook for this game, no doubt a couple of points lower than it would have been.
Freemantle's left foot is the same one that required surgery at the start of the 2021-22 season, Xavier head coach Sean Miller said, adding he's optimistic that Freemantle will be able to rejoin the team in or around that one-month period. He's averaging 15.2 points per game (11th in Big East) on 58.5% shooting along with 8.1 rebounds (fourth in Big East) and 2.9 assists.
"At the moment, it doesn't require surgery," Miller said. "He's going to be out for what we estimate about four weeks, one month. I don't think it's possible for him to be back with us playing before that, simply because of the healing process and just us making sure that if, in fact, he's able to join us at that point that he's been able to have enough recovery time and healing."
If it's just a month, Freemantle would be back in time for the Big East Tournament, which starts March 8 at Madison Square Garden. DraftKings currently lists Xavier (17-5) as a +140 second favorite for the regular-season conference title, +700 to reach its first Final Four and +2800 to win the national title.
CBS Sports Bracketology expert Jerry Palm currently lists Xavier as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament's East Region and Providence (17-5) a No. 6 in the same region. The Friars are +800 to repeat as Big East regular-season champions, +2500 to reach the Final Four and +9000 to win the national championship.
This series is tied 11-11, although Providence has won the last three meetings. The games at Cintas Center the last two seasons have been decided by a three-pointer in the closing seconds. Providence's Jared Bynum hit the game-winner last season, while Xavier's Colby Jones hit the game-winner in 2021.
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