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The Lehigh fan’s guide to Xavier basketball

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If you’re a Lehigh fan desperate for a quick hitter on what to expect tonight, you’ve found the place.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Lehigh v Xavier
It was a party the last time Xavier met Lehigh
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Welcome, Lehigh fans, to our quick guide to the Xavier Musketeers. The last time you guys met us you were riding high on CJ McCollum and a first round win over Duke. The Mountain Hawks jumped out to a big early lead in that 2012 meeting and then watched as Xavier zipped them up to the tune of six points over the last ten and a half minutes of game time. Mark Lyons saw fit to end that game with a windmill dunk on a wide open floor against a defeated team. Now, we call that Macurian.

Were you to visit this feature later in the season you’d find a breakdown of the stats each Xavier player is putting up and a bit about how they are currently playing. We don’t know any of that right now, but if you’re looking for a quick hit on what to expect from the Musketeers, you’re in the right place. There’s also a full preview of tonight’s festivities if you got some free time at your desk. (You do, it’s Friday).

Xavier strategy:

The Musketeers are most likely going to run. Last year Xavier was the 35th fastest team in adjusted tempo and held the ball for about 16 seconds on offense. That was with James Farr and Jalen Reynolds on the floor. Both were athletic bigs, but neither was a sprinter. This season the team is going to be faster and smaller by default, so expect them to get out and go even more.

Defensively, Coach Mack prefers to play man to man when he can. Xavier plays a variation on the pack line defense that makes them somewhat susceptible to three pointers, though that deficiency was addressed more successfully last year. When Xavier isn’t in a man, they go with a 1-3-1 that caused teams genuine trouble last year. If anything, Xavier has gotten longer on the wings and could rely on the zone more this season.

Other things to consider:

  • If you are looking for Myles Davis, Xavier’s emotional leader, he’s not going to be there. Some legal trouble arising from an incident with a young lady has left indefinitely suspended. The case is still ongoing in part, and Xavier is rightfully taking it very seriously.
  • Kaiser Gates, a multi-talented 6-8 forward, is also missing this game due to a knee injury.
  • Those two being down leaves Xavier with eight scholarship players available for this game. Those eight are immensely talented, but this early in the season and with two important cogs missing, Xavier may stumble out of the gate.
  • One guy who won’t be starting slowly is JP Macura. You can count on JP to be all over the place trying to make something happen from the tip all the way to the buzzer. If you’re a Lehigh fan, you’ll hate him.
  • Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett will do a lot of the heavy lifting for Xavier tonight. Sumner is wisp thin guard who can explode and finish over anyone. Bluiett is one those butter smooth scorers who ends the game with 18 points, about four of which you can remember.