The Xavier Musketeers have stormed out to a 4-0 start for the first time since, well, last year. Riding an offense that is currently ranked 23rd in the nation in adjust efficiency and a strength of schedule some ways below that, XU is looking dominant currently. The schedule doesn't tick up with the first game over the Thanksgiving tournament, but the difficulty may.
Xavier hasn't been on the road yet, and it's hard to get much farther from home than Anaheim, California. Xavier also hasn't won on Thanksgiving day since they started playing these tournaments and has run up a less than impressive 2-4 record on their holiday trips. Add to that the fact that San Diego is playing a semi-home game and this one is more difficult than the KenPom rankings would lead you to believe.
San Diego doesn't have too bad an offense themselves, currently coming in at 53rd in the nation. Despite being a smaller than average team, the Toreros do most of their damage inside the arc, scoring slightly over half of their points inside. That's not from a lack of effort from deep though, because SD is in the top third in the nation in 3PA/FGA. Their 32.4% mark from deep, though, undermines their efforts. More than that, the 22.6% turnover rate the Toreros manage significantly hampers their offense. It's worth keeping an eye on their trips to the line as well, only 23 teams in the nation get there on more of their field goal attempts.
Defensively San Diego prefers the man to man and defending the arc. Opponents are shooting only 24.6% from behind the arc (Xavier is shooting 37% on the season). Opponents are also only trying 29.5% of their shots from three. The Toreros aren't as bad inside as they are good outside, but it's close. Teams make 48.6% inside the arc and only have 11.6% of their attempts blocked. If anything, San Diego's schedule has been even softer than Xavier's, so it's difficult to know exactly how much to take from the numbers. The only top 100 KenPom team they played was #77 Boise St, who beat them 81-75.
|What Anderson does exceptionally well is set people up to get baskets. What he is less than discriminatory about is which team those baskets go to. Anderson turns the ball over just shy of 4 times a game, still posting a respectable 2.4 A/TO ratio. While this will be another tough defensive assignment for Davis, the fact he has 5 inches on Anderson should play to his advantage on the offensive end.
|Dee is as a proficient scorer who is the focal point of San Diego's attack. He scores fairly efficiently, ranking in the top 200 nationally in both Effective Field Goal % as well as True Shooting %. What he does not do is much of anything else. He averages less than a steal a game, and although he gets an assist and a half a game, it is at the cost of 2.3 turnovers. Dee is a hard draw for Abell, but chances should be there for X's guards to make Dee work on defense.
|What am I supposed to write about a guy averaging 3.8 ppg for San Diego? Bailey has started the last 2 games in place of Duda Sandaze. Bailey doesn’t necessarily do anything that well, but he will be a comparable size matchup for Bluiett, I guess.
|Kok is out there to prowl the lane on defense and turn shots into seat-bound missiles. He plays very physically, as evidenced by the fact he commits 5 fouls per 40 minutes, while drawing 5.8. He converts a respectable 71% from the line, which keeps his offensive rating from being a complete disaster.
|Jacobs scores pretty efficiently, but is pretty peripheral in San Diego's gameplan. He is a pretty fair rebounder for his size, but will be another matchup that Stainbrook should be able to take advantage of on offense.
-How does the lineup set? Xavier has been running Trevon Bluiett at the four for most of the season with the exception of the Murray State game. If Coach Mack can do that and keep some miles off of the big men early in a long weekend, it may behoove him to do that. The challenge, of course, is to make sure he doesn't jeopardize this game in the process.
-Who controls the pace? San Diego has played just faster than average this year, but Xavier has had massive amounts of success in transition. If Xavier can get out and get easy points, this could become an uphill battle in a hurry for San Diego. Step one for X should be controlling the boards, but step two is getting out and running.
-Who is fit to go? JP Macura practiced yesterday after taking a nasty fall, but it's anyone's guess how he's feeling. Edmond Sumner saw his first minutes of the season on Monday and was definitely feeling the effort afterwards. Coach Mack is coaching the first game of a long weekend at the beginning of a long season; it will be interesting to see how he works this.
-Keep it clean. San Diego is elite in terms of being able to find their way to the free throw line as a team, and Xavier has a couple of guys whose defensive activity strays outside the bounds of the NCAA rule book. The Muskies should have the advantage in most facets of the game, but playing a local team when you're 2,166 miles from home is not the time to see if the refs will call fouls.
-Work it inside. San Diego has defend the arc at a high level both in terms of allowing shots and allowing opponents to convert them. That has come at the cost of being 200th in the nation in two-point field goal percentage defense. Xavier has the personnel to go to work inside, and they should do just that.
-Pressure the ball. The Toreros was 47th in the nation in EFG%, but their offense is hamstrung by a penchant for turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Point guard Christopher Anderson is 5'7" and gives the dang thing away like it's been greased, and the rest of the team isn't exactly Fort Knox. The occasional gamble on defense should be fruitful for the Muskies this game.