As setting your depth chart has pretty much turned into copying what Coach Mack does each game, we're trying to give you a look at the different roster permutations that could effect each individual game. Tomorrow, that game is Villanova. The Wildcats remain the only team in the Big East that Xavier is yet to beat since joining the conference. Xavier's main rotation is set, but here are three roster questions that Coach Mack will look to answer in tomorrow's contest.
1. Is it time for more JP?
If at the start of the season you had told JP that he'd be playing more than Jalen Reynolds, he probably would have been elated. However, JP is still only getting exactly 20 minutes per game. Macura would probably be playing more if he could defend very well in the man to man. This may be the game where the 1-3-1 is the answer to Villanova's three point heaving tendencies. Nearly 50% of Nova's of field goal attempts. JP is clearly Coach Mack's favorite at the top of the zone because of his willingness to run incessantly to pressure the ball. Of course that leads to the question of...
2. Who plays in the 1-3-1?
Say that Coach Mack wants to get arms in the air and in front of shooters. He could play JP at the top of the zone, with Edmond Sumner and Remy Abell on the wings. That also leaves available the possibility of a Jalems Farrnolds double pivot to leverage Xavier's massive rebounding advantage. You may notice that excludes Trevon Bluiett and Myles Davis. Bring in either of them on the win and you sacrifice a step or two of coverage on defense. Is it possible that Bluiett could play in the middle of the zone or Davis on the top? Will Coach Mack try Sumner on the top like he has from time to time and let Myles chase shooters on the wings? This game demands a delicate balance between trying to stop the three and not giving up too much offense to do so.
3. Can Larry finally deliver?
Edmond fouls good ballhandlers. Villanova is loaded with good ballhandlers. Larry Austin Jr. is, at least in theory, a good on ball defender. Unfortunately, he adds nothing but turnovers on offense. LAJ can play a part on this team if he can keep his head above water defensively. If Xavier plays a lot of man and Edmond gets in foul trouble early, Larry is going to have to show why he merits a scholarship.