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Xavier v. Marquette: Preview, Matchups, and Keys to the Game

Marquette comes to the Cintas loaded with both height and Ellensons. Xavier should be a match for both.

Tall people. Ellensons.
Tall people. Ellensons.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Don't forget to stop in and tell us about your top five Musketeers.

As I'm sure you're aware by now, there are no freebies in the Big East. La Salle isn't walking through that door, nor is Xavier going to play in their high school gym at any point in the future. The depth of the league is at once a blessing and a curse, and being swamped with high-level opponents to play often stands a team in good stead in March... if they can win the games.

The next such challenge for Xavier comes in the form of Marquette. The Golden Eagles are only 4-6 in the conference, but they have beaten Providence when the Friars were in the top 10 and a reeling Butler. Their other two wins were by a total of 11 points against the weirdly competitive but verifiably winless St. John's team that Xavier just knocked off. Marquette is coming off of a 17-point road destruction at the hands of Seton Hall and can no doubt feel the season - which at one point saw them standing at 10-2 - starting to slide away.

Team fingerprint:

Unlike Coach Mack, I can't spell Coach Wojo's full name correctly without looking it up. What I can tell you is that the offense that looked mediocre out of conference has fallen to sincerely bad in league play. Marquette works the ball inside the arc, where they're about an average shooting team. Everything else is bad, as they are 9th in the league in TO% and 10th (or last) in OReb%. They get a ton of their shots blocked, they give up a lot of live-ball turnovers, and they don't shoot it well from deep.

By contrast, their defense is in the middle of the pack in Big East play and 53rd in the nation in overall adjusted efficiency. Rebounding is still an issue, but they are 3rd in the league in TO% and first in steal%. They also do a good job of smothering the arc without conceding easy buckets inside. They don't send teams to the line a lot, but opponents shoot really well from the stripe against Marquette. Make of that what you will.


Starting matchups
Traci Carter Point Guard Edmond Sumner
Freshman Class Freshman
6'0", 175 Measurements 6'6", 183
5.1/2.6/4.3 Game Line 10.4/3.3/3.3
.346/.353/.722 Shooting Line .396/.327/.695
Carter is a good defender and ball distributor, but his efficiency is let down by a TO% well over 30%. While he can hit the occasional three in a catch-and-shoot situation, he's shooting just 13% on two-point jumpers. Xavier will defend him the same way other teams defend LAJ when he isn't getting to the rim.
Haanif Cheatham Shooting Guard Myles Davis
Freshman Class Junior
6'5", 190 Measurements 6'2", 188
10.6/3.3/2.3 Game Line 11.0/3.3/3.7
.480/.400/.785 Shooting Line .406/.375/.891
Conference play hasn't been good to ol' Haanif; he's shooting a cool .409/.238/.838 in Big East play. His turnovers have stayed high and he's shooting the ball more now than he did in the non-conference season; it all adds up to a player whose efficiency is on the slide right now.
JuJuan Johnson Small Forward Remy Abell
Junior Class Senior
6'5", 195 Measurements 6'4", 185
8.6/2.7/1.5 Game Line 6.2/1.5/1.9
.493/.375/.703 Shooting Line .394/.356/.733
Johnson didn't get the start against Xavier last time around, but I reckon he'll be in the lineup now. He's a versatile scorer who can get buckets from all three levels, but he has almost entirely eschewed the three-point shot in conference play. Distribution isn't his thing; he can be a little bit of a ball stopper on offense. He's a very solid defender.
Henry Ellenson Power Forward Trevon Bluiett
Freshman Class Sophomore
6'11", 245 Measurements 6'6", 215
16.0/10.0/1.8 Game Line 15.4/6.6/2.2
.425/.288/.750 Shooting Line .427/.387/.823
You've probably heard a lot about this guy and how he's going to get paid sometime soon, and it's likely true. He boards like a monster and blocks a good amount of shots. His offensive efficiency is really deflated by his tendency to settle for jumpers; only a quarter of his field goal attempts this year have come at the rim.
Luke Fischer Center Jalen Reynolds
Senior Class Junior
6'11", 245 Measurements 6'10", 238
12.4/6.8/1.0 Game Line 9.7/6.7/0.7
.595/.000/.680 Shooting Line .524/.400/.662
Fischer lives in the paint. He's not as effective on the defensive glass as Ellenson, but he gets after the ball on the offensive boards and has a solid arsenal of scoring moves to either hand on the post. He's drawing a lot fewer fouls in conference play than he was earlier in the season, and that has really hurt his ability to influence the game.


Not a lot of minutes come off of the pine for Marquette. Their biggest reserve contributor is bench gunner Duane Wilson. He's a 6'2" sophomore guard who gets 12.2/2.7/2.8 on .435/.347/.688 shooting. He doesn't board it or distribute very well, but only Henry Ellenson has a higher shots%. Wilson doesn't work to the rim much, but he's an unblushing gunner from behind the arc who has more three-point attempts than any two of his teammates combined.

Sandy Cohen is a 6'6" wing who got the start against X last time. His numbers have really taken a beating in conference play and he has diminished from a passive but reliable wing scorer to a dude who rarely shoots and even more rarely sees them fall. He's 2-15 from deep in Big East play, so watch for him to hit his first four against Xavier. Wally Ellenson is a 6'6" wing who rounds out the bench for the Golden Eagles; he's notable for being a really explosive leaper and the brother of a future lottery pick.

Three Keys:

- Pound the glass: Xavier crushed the Golden Eagles on the boards the first time and there's not a lot to suggest that much has changed since then. Marquette causes misses, but they don't grab them very well at all. They also don't grab their own. The Musketeers have one giant advantage in this game, and it would behoove them to use it. Once you get past the Ellenson's, the Golden Eagles don't have depth on the glass. Xavier does, and Kaiser Gates and Sean O'Mara need to get in there and demonstrate that.

- Attack: Teams don't get to the line much against Marquette because the Golden Eagles ability to block shots dissuades drives. Xavier lives at the line because nothing dissuades Edmond Sumner, Trevon Bluiett, or James Farr. Clearly, something has to give. Xavier got to the line 26 times in the first game and only got blocked once. That kind of aggression and, frankly, good fortune, are what the Musketeers need again.

- Make Marquette shoot from deep: When the Golden Eagles have an EFG of 50% or less, they are 4-6. The Golden Eagles are a pretty poor 34.1% from deep on the year. This, then, is a case for the 1-3-1. If Marquette has to shoot from deep, they won't make many shots. If they don't make many shots, they lose. It's that simple. Keep Wojo's guys behind the arc and only a Tre Campbell like performance will hurt Xavier.