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Xavier v. Georgetown: Preview

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Xavier desperately needs a road win, but Georgetown isn't an easy place to get one. Can the Musketeers carry over some momentum from Saturday's win?

DSR demonstrates his patented new headball jumpshot hybrid.
DSR demonstrates his patented new headball jumpshot hybrid.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you click on ESPN's bracketology (where Xavier is currently an 11 seed), you'll not that Joe Lunardi has the page arranged with the criteria that the selection committee actually uses to evaluate teams. While that means that you have to again be confronted with the fact that there are grown adults out there who think the RPI is useful, you'll also see that road and neutral record play a big part. Right now, those numbers for Xavier are 1-2 and 1-5.

Tonight, Xavier travels to Georgetown for what is probably the second most difficult road trip of the season so far. The Musketeers beat Georgetown 70-53 to begin the Big East season, but since then the Hoyas have gone 6-1. Most impressively, Georgetown used the same home court advantage they'll employ tonight to beat Villanova by 20 back on Monday the 19th. Xavier desperately needs a marquee road win, but getting it at Georgetown will not be easy.

Team fingerprint:

Since conference play started, Georgetown is third in the Big East in both offensive and defensive efficiency. On offense they get it done by shooting the ball well (effective field goal of 52%) and crushing the offensive glass. Led by Josh Smith, who is 12th in the nation in offensive rebounding rate, the Hoyas grab nearly 37% of their own misses. All action around the bucket puts Georgetown at 23rd in the nation in turning field goal attempts into the free throw attempts they convert at a 71.3% clip.

On the other end, the Hoyas like to send other teams to the line almost as much as they enjoy going there themselves. 42.6% of opponent's attempts against Georgetown lead to free throws. (Xavier makes 72.5% from the line). Georgetown forces a low effective field goal percentage and will block a lot of shots (15.5%, 13th nationally) and get a lot of steals (11.7%, 32nd). That does leave the Hoyas away from the offensive glass, so team's grab 31.6% of their misses. Unfortunately for Xavier, their offensive rebounding has dipped in recent weeks. The Hoyas can be had from deep, where they allow opponents to make 33.5% of their attempts.

Georgetown is above the national average in terms of depth, getting 35% of their minutes from the bench. They are also far above the national average in height, coming in at +2.5 in effective height.

Starters:

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera Point Guard Dee Davis
Junior Class Senior
6'3", 214 Measurements 6'0", 160
15.3/3.9/3.5 Game Line 9.3/2.0/5.8
.408/.387/.860 Shooting Line .412/.283/.733
While his field goal numbers are a little down from last season, that is really the only area in DSR's offesnive game that isn't a strength. He has distributed well, taken care of the ball, and does excellently in getting to the line and converting. Despite his lowish field goal percentage, he is still in the top 100 in ORtg and will most likely draw a matchup with Remy Abell again.
Jabril Trawick Shooting Guard Myles Davis
Senior Class Sophmore
6'5", 220 Measurements 6'2', 195
7.9/3.7/2.3 Game Line 10.8/2.2/1.7
.548/.438/.630 Shooting Line .434/.422/.867
Trawick has been a key conrtibutor in Georgetown's recent surge, despite his fairly low 16.3 usage rate. With the exception of his injury shortened outting against Marquette, when Trawick has gone for double digits, Georgetown has won in conference. The two times he hasn't, they have lost. Trawick relies on his etremely high shooting numberd from the floor, and Xavier must be dilligent about limiting his space.
LJ Peak Small Forward Remy Abell
Freshman Class Junior
6'5", 215 Measurements 6'4", 195
8.9/2.5/1.3 Game Line 9.2/1.7/1.7
.407/.220/.700 Shooting Line .516/.411/.739
Peak, like Trawick, was limited in Georgetown's last game, and his status for tonight is unknown. What else is unknown is how effective he will be, as he has had the typical amount of streakiness to be expected from a freshman in a big conference. He is somewhat of a volume scorer who needs a lot of shots to get into the groove, but has been increasingly more peripheral in Georgetown's offense as other players have stepped to the fore. It will be interesting if his assumed matchup with Myles Davis does anything to change that.
Isaac Copeland Power Forward James Farr
Freshman Class Junior
6'9", 220 Measurements 6'10", 237
5.8/2.5/0.6 Game Line 5.0/6.0/0.6
.494/.400/.815 Shooting Line .405/.267/.476
Copeland announced himself on the Big East scene with his huge three pointer to beat Butler, and has scored 17 points in both games since. He took the spot over from Mikael Hopkins, who is much better rebounder but not nearly the scorer. Copeland can stretch a defense with his shooting (ugh), and will presumably do so against Xavier. This guy's emergence may well just be what changes this Georgetown squad from a bubble team to one fighting to get onto the 3 line.
Josh Smith Center Matt Stainbrook
Senior Class Senior
6'10", 350ish Measurements 6'10", 270
12.6/6.9/1.2 Game Line 12.9/7.2/2.4
.465/.000/.701 Shooting Line .641/.333/.759
Smith is a UCLA transfer who has been limited to 55% of the available minutes this year due to his curious conditioning practices. When he is on the court, he is the focal point for the Hoyas, using more than a quarter of the available posessions. He is a beast on the boards, fouls and gets fouled a lot, and blocks a surprising number of shots. Basically the onlt box he deosn't tick for a big that Xavier will struggle with is that he hasn't even attempted a three this year. Otherwise, this guy is a handful. And then some.

Reserves:

With Peak and Trawick in doubt, Aaron Bowen will presumably have a larger role tonight. His 6.7/2.1/0.9 are nothing to shake a stick at, and he is Gerogetown's best at turning the opponent over with his 3.1 steal rate. Mikael Hopkins still plays a significant role, despite no longer starting, averaging 4.8/5.5/1.4. Although he doesn't shoot nearly as well from outside as Copeland, his ability on the boards will be invaluable when he spells Josh Smith. Paul White is another promising freshman for the Hoyas, and comes off the bench to play both Small Forward and Power Forward. He gets 6.3/3.1/1.1, although his .429 three point percentage will be something for Xavier to consider whenever he checks into the game. The first, and typically only, guard off the bench is Tre Campbell, about whom not a lot can be said other than that he doesn't turn the ball over very much.

Three questions:

- How will Xavier matchup? The four over one worked amazingly against a DePaul team that lacks a true interior post. Doing that against Georgetown means that someone has to guard Mikael Hopkins, a 6-9, 239 pound sledgehammer of a human being. Coach Mack can still use the four out, one in effectively, but  he'll have to be very careful when Hopkins and Josh Smith are on the floor together.

- Can Xavier shut down the three point line? Xavier's three point defense reached it's nadir with Aaron Simpson's sublimely absurd shot to end the first half on Saturday. The Hoyas don't step out much, but they do make 35.4% of their shots. Xavier most likely won't allow another 30+ threes point attempts, but they have to limit the Hoyas attempts. In the first matchup, Georgetown got off 13 threes. That's a very livable number for the Musketeers.

- What is the rotation? Myles Davis minutes are way up, Remy Abell's are dropping slightly, Trevon Bluiett looks re-energized, James Farr and Jalen Reynolds can't both be effective in the same game and Dee Davis is playing more and shooting worse than he has all season. Matt Stainbrook is the constant, but what will Coach Mack fill in around him?

Three keys:

- Carry over the intensity: Maybe it was the terrible technical foul call or maybe Coach Mack (figuratively) exploded in the locker room, but Xavier came out ready to play in the second half against DePaul. That will need to carry over into a hostile environment or the Musketeers may get blitzed early.

- Actually play some defense: In the second half on Saturday the Blue Demons barely managed .7 points per possession. Some of that was down to rotten shot selection, but a lot of it had to do with Xavier players remembering that there are actually two ends to a basketball court. The mixture of 2-3, 1-3-1, matchup zone, and man to man takes some practice to execute, but Xavier looks a lot better with a defensive wrinkle.

- Knock down open shots: Three point attempts will be there for Xavier tonight, but the Musketeers are shooting 29.1% in conference play. Someone is going to have to get hot to spread out Georgetown's interior defense. Myles Davis is shooting with a lot of confidence right now, so he could be the man.