Here we are. After all of the prelude, the regular season, and the conference tournament, Xavier is back where they belong. The seeds and matchups change, the possibilities expand and contract, but the Musketeers are in the NCAA tournament. From here on, every game is win or go home. There will be no second chances, no improving the resume, no non-damaging wins. It all counts.
Maryland arrives having suffered some of the same letdown that Xavier has. They are talented and capable of beating just about anyone, but also callow enough to lose to teams like Nebraska. A lot of experts and projection systems are just shading Xavier to win, but this is anything but a milk run.
The Terrapins on offense shoot the ball from deep a lot and also turn it over a lot. They don’t play fast, they don’t get on the glass at an elite level, and they get blocked a lot. However, they shoot the ball relatively well, and they are very effective at getting to the line. They aren’t great from there, but they’ll get their opportunities.
Defensively, the Terps clamp down inside the arc and dare you to beat them on the glass, where they are horrible, or from deep. They don’t force a lot of turnovers, but they do block a lot of shots. They do a great job on the initial shot, but things go downhill for Maryland after that.
|Anthony Cowan||Point Guard||Quentin Goodin|
|6'0", 170||Measurements||6'4", 190|
|Xavier recruited Cowan, but he stayed home in Maryland. Cowan is playing right now like a Q that shoots much better, but passes a little bit worse. Their body types could hardly be different.|
|Melo Trimble||Shooting Guard||J.P. Macura|
|6'3", 185||Measurements||6'5", 203|
|Maryland goes as Trimble goes. He's not always efficient, but he's always determined to get his. If he does in the flow of offense, X is in trouble.|
|Kevin Huerter||Small Forward||Malcolm Bernard|
|6'7", 190||Measurements||6'6", 202|
|Huerter is a shooter who plays passable defense and gets on the defensive glass. Macura may end up here if Bernard draws Trimble.|
|Justin Jackson||Power Forward||Trevon Bluiett|
|6'7", 225||Measurements||6'6", 215|
|Jackson plays the four, but he's a three at heart. As such, he'll create a very good matchup with Trevon.|
|Damonte Dodd||Center||RaShid Gaston|
|6'11", 250||Measurements||6'9", 239|
|Dodd blocks a ton of shots, but fouls like an angry Tyrique Jones. If Gaston has it working, Maryland will have to go to the much less defensively adept Ivan Bender.|
Ivan Bender comes off the bench in the post. He’s a 6-9 offensive threat who is decent on the glass, but a step down defensively. Jaylen Brantley is a 5-11 backup guard who shoots 38% from behind the arc and is decent with the ball. LG Gill plays forward like a 6-8 center and is pretty good on the glass on both ends. Jared Nickens comes off the bench almost solely as a mediocre spot up shooter.
- Who guards Melo Trimble? Trimble is three inches shorter than Bernard but possess a clear quickness advantage. Quentin Goodin would make an interesting matchup with his muscular advantage, but he’s not experienced at guarding such an explosive scorer. The idea of JP or Trevon is almost frightening.
- How much Tyrique Jones? Jones is Xavier’s best offensive rebounder. He can get lost on defense and sometimes his offense is somewhat unrefined. Despite all that, he’s ferocious on the glass. That’s where Xavier’s advantage is, and Tyrique is their best chance to exploit it.
- Can Trevon load the team on his back? This is more esoteric, but this becomes Trevon’s chance to just toss everyone on and carry them to winning time. He did it once this year in, ironically, a loss, but he showed that he can drop 40 if called upon. If he does that tonight, Xavier fans are likely to start checking the Saturday schedule.
- Dominate the glass: Maryland isn’t great on the glass on either end, and they are close to genuinely bad at ending defensive stops there. Xavier crushes the offensive glass even against teams that rebound well, they must leave the Terps no breathing room here.
- Shoot from deep: X hasn’t shot well behind the arc this year, but the sledding could be tough inside today. JP getting hot or Trevon finding the range early would open up the inside and force the Terrapins into defending deeper than they’d like.
- Don’t dig a hole: Maryland’s defense isn’t all around great, but they do keep teams from shooting well. Xavier can’t get behind and then hope to gun their way back into it. Also, none of us can handle that kind of stress.