We know each other. We may not personally know each other, you and I, but this is not a new encounter for Xavier and Dayton fans. Since Jimmy Carter was in office, Xavier has not lost to Dayton in Cincinnati. This game is not being played in Cincinnati, though, and it's not being played over the past 35 years. History is why you and I aren't going to be besties; the reasons we're not going to get along today are a lot more immediate.
Here's a little bit of background information on the current iteration of the Musketeers, just to get you started.
|4||Edmond Sumner||Fr.||G||6-6||183||11.0||2.7||2.8||.436||.385||.659||Very explosive attacking the basket; sometimes overdribbles looking for his shot|
|10||Remy Abell||Sr.||G||6-4||197||7.0||1.5||2.0||.333||.250||.824||Best defender on the team; can score, but doesn't hunt shots|
|15||Myles Davis||Jr.||G||6-2||188||9.8||3.5||2.3||.340||.308||.905||Best shooter on the team, but off to a cold start; has old-man game|
|5||Trevon Bluiett||So.||G/F||6-6||208||14.7||7.8||2.5||.425||.469||.733||Scores at all three levels; has a nose for the ball|
|1||Jalen Reynolds||Jr.||F||6-10||238||10.0||8.0||1.3||.455||.500||.731||Absolute monster in the middle; prone to mental mistakes|
|Larry Austin Jr.||So.||G||6-2||179||2.2||0.7||1.2||.556||.000||.750||Will push on offense and work hard on defense|
|2||James Farr||Sr.||F/C||6-10||244||9.7||9.3||0.5||.511||.000||.923||Probably the best rebounder in the nation right now|
|13||Makindé London||Fr.||F||6-10||220||1.4||1.6||0.2||.222||.200||.500||Athletic but whip thin; good shot blocker as help defender|
|22||Kaiser Gates||Fr.||F||6-8||217||2.3||2.0||0.0||.250||.167||.667||Stretch four; not afraid to shoot|
|54||Sean O'Mara||So.||F/C||6-10||247||1.8||0.8||0.0||.500||.000||.500||Back-to-the-basket big man; struggling to find his feet|
|55||J.P. Macura||So.||G||6-5||203||10.5||2.7||2.0||.436||.318||.917||Always gives huge effort; has incredible offensive flair|
Xavier is really good at the parts of the offense that don't involve actually scoring the basketball. We are shooting a bit below average from deep and sincerely poorly from inside the arc. It's not a point of pride for us right now. Turnovers haven't been a strength or a weakness, but offensive rebounding has. James Farr and Jalen Reynolds are leading the way, but everyone is doing well on the offensive glass. That's leading to more free throws, which Xavier is making pretty well.
Defense is in flux right now. For years, Xavier has been a man team under Coach Mack, but now the 1-3-1 zone is becoming a bigger part of the defensive game. The man is really susceptible to dribble penetration and eventually openings for jumpers as the defense rotates. The 1-3-1 at least forces the opponent into taking the shots we know they're going to take, so I guess it's a step forward in that regard.
Other things to consider
- This game should be on the schedule every year.
- Xavier has traditionally been pretty poor on Thanksgiving tournaments, so this final is kind of new ground.
- Three players have led the team in scoring, three have led the team in assists, and five have led the team in rebounds in just six games; X is deep and balanced.
- National broadcasters have just found out that Bill Murray's son is on staff; have fun hearing that a million times.