When the field of the AdvoCare Invitational for this year was announced, Xavier fans immediately identified an opportunity to (1) get some big matchups against programs like Wichita State and Notre Dame and (2) possibly take on former conference rival and perennially annoying little brother Dayton in the final game. Wichita State and Notre Dame dropped the ball, but wins against Alabama and USC have X playing for the championship.
Dayton was up 10 with 8 minutes to play in the first round before surrendering a 16-2 run over 5 minutes to put themselves in trouble. They battled back to beat Iowa, then they got some help from the refs down the stretch against a Monmouth team that looked surprisingly sharp to advance to 2-0 on the weekend and 5-0 on the year.
|Game time:||4:30 PM|
|Cinci Bell Fioptics||29|
The Flyers win with defense right now. They basically concede the three-point arc, and teams have been scoring pretty well from deep against them. They're not great at forcing turnovers. I highlight their relative weaknesses first because their strengths are so strong. Only five teams are better in two-point field goal defense, they're just outside the top 50 in block% and steal%. Their defensive rebounding isn't elite, but it is very good.
On offense, they are in the top 50 in two-point shooting and focus on working inside the arc. They are an average three-point shooting team. Dayton really excels at offensive rebounding and getting to the line. Their main offensive weak point is ball security, where they rank 291st in the nation in turnover%.
|Scoochie Smith||Point Guard||Edmond Sumner|
|6'2", 180||Measurements||6'6", 185|
|Dayton's offense hinges on Smith's success more than is typical of a team's dependance on their point guard. Smith plays the most minutes for Dayton and uses them to both score and set his teammates up. His distribution and two point shooting are both markedly better from last season and are a major reason the Flyers are 5-0.|
|Kyle Davis||Shooting Guard||Myles Davis|
|6'0", 175||Measurements||6'2", 188|
|Davis's value has come mostly through his defense at Dayton, but he has also been a solid offensive player this season. His outside shooting is not a major factor, but he does well inside the arc and at the line and is setting his teammates up more often and opponents up less often than he did a year ago.|
|Charles Cooke||Small Forward||Remy Abell|
|6'5", 192||Measurements||6'4", 185|
|When Cooke is on the floor, he is the player whose shot Dayton is looking for. So far, he has handled the step up from James Madison well, but tended to run hot and cold there. He doesn't tend to look to pass very much, but would you if you were getting 16 a game?|
|Kendall Pollard||Power Forward||Trevon Bluiett|
|6'6", 235||Measurements||6'6", 215|
|Pollard is not much of a threat to stretch the floor from the 4 spot, preferring to get his points in and around the paint, where he does pretty well. He struggles mightily at the line and will have to keep himself out of the foul trouble he faced against Monmouth, as he is a big part of Dayton's defensive rebounding scheme.|
|Steve McElvene||Center||Jalen Reynolds|
|6'11", 268||Measurements||6'10", 238|
|McElvene is a big in the same cloth as we saw with Jimmie Taylor of Alabama. He is not a major part of the offense because he isn't particularly effective there, but excels on the boards at both ends and in blocking shots. As one of Dayton's 2 players over 6'8", he is another vital part of their defense because of his rebounding. He also struggles with foul trouble at times, which he will have to watch against Xavier's offensive rebounding attack.|
Dayton has four players who get significant time off the bench, the lone returner being guard Darrell Davis, whose 6.8 ppg have come much less efficiently than last season, due in large part to his struggles from three point range, where his percentage has dropped from 45 to 25. Ryan Mikesell, on the other hand, has been instant offense from the bench, averaging 6.8 points, but shooting .600/.533/.400 to get them. At 6'7" Mikesell is also a threat on the boards, but only does well at the offensive glass. Behind him in minutes is all around defensive stopper Xeyrius Williams who, despite his 6'8" stature, leads Dayton in steal rate. He gets offensive rebounds well, but only converts 44% from the floor and isn't a threat from deep. Coming in at just over 10 minutes a game is 6'9" Sam Miller who fouled out in back to back games in which he totaled 23 minutes of action. Miller isn't a big contributor on either end of floor, but does give Dayton some size when McElvene has to sit.
-Who guards Scoochie Smith? Also, what kind of grown man goes by Scoochie? More to the point, Smith is the straw that stirs the drink for UD, leading them in assist rate and ORtg. He's not their main scorer, but he is their main offensive threat. Shutting him down would go a long way to derailing UD's offense.
-Can Xavier score inside? Will they even try? This should be a strength against strength matchup, but X has struggled to establish the paint all year. Will they dump it inside the Jalen and James? If so, can those guys make it play?
-Did Xavier's easy wins help? Dayton had to battle for 40 minutes twice in just over 24 hours while Xavier more or less cruised for stretches of both games. Does X come in more rested, or does Dayton come in more sharp?
-Win the freebie battle. Second-chances from the glass and turnovers combine to give a team extra possessions or rob them of chances to score. Dayton has done well on the glass but struggled with TO% on both ends. Xavier needs to make the advantage on the glass stick and turn Dayton over.
-Move the ball. Dayton's defense does well when teams try to go right at it. Attacking into the teeth of it yields bad shots, but keeping the ball moving around can end up with open shots from deep. Being disciplined enough to give the ball up and make the defense rotate will pay off in spades for Xavier if they stick to it.
-Play 40 minutes. With the possible exception of the Michigan game, Xavier hasn't faced an opponent that has tested them from wire to wire in a game this season. There's a good chance that Dayton will be that team. If they are, the Muskies will need a complete performance to beat them. If they aren't, it would be kind of fun to play a really solid couple of halves and just bury them.