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The Villanova fan's (updated) guide to Xavier basketball

Welcome back to Banners! We hope you cheer for the second best team in the entire arena tonight.

Also, Bill Murray's kid is on our coaching staff. Not sure if you've heard that a trillion times, but we have.
Also, Bill Murray's kid is on our coaching staff. Not sure if you've heard that a trillion times, but we have.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again, Nova fans. This one barely got off the ground the first time around, as a Xavier team that was going to have its hands full anyway watched its most dynamic player carted off on a stretcher before the first media timeout. The team never really collected itself after that, and Villanova turned the game into a laugher. A lot has happened since then, and I'm here to get you all caught up on Xavier's current status.

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 11.4 3.2 3.2 .432 .350 .730 YOU HURT HIM! Freak collisions aside, Ed is a slashing combo guard who can attack and finish with either hand. His shooting is set up by his athletic ability; defenders have to respect his first step off the dribble. He's almost impossible to stop with a head of steam. He is growing as a defender, but he remains a work in progress on that end.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 10.5 3.6 3.9 .392 .369 .857 The steady counterpoint to Sumner explosive abilities. Consistent outside shooter with range well beyond the arc. Sneakily piles up assists by playing good basketball. He does whatever the team needs on the offensive end. Emotional leader.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 6.1 1.4 1.6 .400 .339 .768 Dynamic defensively. He'll guard the opposition's best perimeter player when Xavier goes man. At his best in transition on offense; runs the floor without the ball very well. Will cede a lot of minutes to fan favorite JP Macura when Xavier goes zone.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 15.3 6.5 2.3 .417 .382 .785 A threat from anywhere on the court thanks to top-notch footwork. Can be streaky, but not shy about shooting himself through a slump. Can be relied upon to guard near the bucket better than on the perimeter. Good rebounder for his size.
1 Jalen Reynolds Jr. F 6'10" 238 9.6 6.7 0.7 .505 .333 .624 Should be Xavier's best post player, but has trouble getting out of his own way sometimes. Definitely not a favorite of the officials'. He is super athletic and plays with a fairly overt mean streak. Good rebounder, good defender in the middle.
0 Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 2.1 1.1 1.3 .435 .000 .643 A very solid backup point. Makes about one ridiculous turnover every time out, but otherwise does well running the team when Sumner is resting. A tenacious defender. Very athletic.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.0 8.1 0.6 .538 .143 .800 The best rebounder in the nation over the course of the season. Once fancied himself a jump shooter, but has rebuilt his game around staying close to the bucket on both ends. Defends the rim well. Can still knock down the occasional jumper, especially from the left baseline.
13 Makindé London Fr. F 6'10" 220 1.8 1.3 0.4 .381 .438 .500 Whip thin and hyper athletic, but still growing into his game. Can really shoot it when he gets his feet set. If you see him while the game is still in doubt, something strange is happening.
22 Kaiser Gates Fr. F 6'8" 217 2.9 2.4 0.1 .385 .281 .621 We're really excited about this guy's potential. He's a solid defender already and could be an excellent one in the future. Has a lot of mobility and shoots the ball with a ton of confidence. Is still fairly foul prone right now.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.4 1.8 0.2 .635 .000 .579 Plays like the former offensive lineman he is. Difficult for opposing big men to move out of the paint. Has good finesse game in the post. Scores efficiently, but fouls a ton.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 9.5 2.6 2.1 .483 .329 .819 His overt antagonism hides a truly gifted offensive player. Leads X in ORtg in conference play thanks largely to a dazzling array of floaters and creative finishes around the rim. Flies to the offensive glass. Creates havoc at the top of the 1-3-1. Not afraid of anything or anyone on the basketball court. Opposing fans hate him.

Xavier strategy

The 1-3-1 zone gets all the media attention on the defensive end, but Coach Mack remains at heart a man-to-man guy. Xavier plays a pack line man, with the focus being on ball pressure and providing four bodies of help to the primary defender. The zone will play passing lanes a little more, but both defenses focus on forcing long jumpers and cleaning up on the offensive glass. If you have a team that can hit long jumpers, it really pull Xavier out of its comfort zone on defense.

Xavier doesn't really have one guy who is going to be "the man" on the offensive end on a night-in and night-out basis. Half a dozen guys have a realistic chance of leading the team in scoring, and another handful can go get a bucket or two on any given night. The team's strategy is predicated on keeping the ball and the fellas moving and trusting that whoever ends up with the ball in an open position can turn it into a basket. When it gets down to brass tacks, Myles Davis is the guy the team trusts to make the right decision, and Trevon Bluiett is as likely as anyone to be cashing them out.

Other things to consider

  • You guys have really been hogging the wins in this matchup, so maybe knock that off.
  • Xavier sold out the Cintas Center, then sold out the standing room only areas, then sold out some extra tickets, the provenance of which is not clear. X wants this one.
  • I'm not sure how into KenPom you all are, but he has given seven different Muskies at least one game MVP award this year. Depth and versatility are the hallmarks of this crew.
  • Xavier is 15-1 in games in which Myles Davis hits more than one three; if he gets hot, watch out.