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The key to tonight’s game just might be Sean O’Mara

The more graceful of Xavier’s bigs may have his chance to make a major impact tonight.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For the last three plus seasons Sean O’Mara has been the consistent forgotten man for Xavier. He shoots well, fouls too much, has balletic footwork in the post, and has watched a bevy of more athletic big men swarm around him. But for a star turn in last year’s tournament, his career highlights have been of the more staid variety.

There’s a chance that can end tonight. Villanova is an excellent team, probably the best in the country, but they are vulnerable to a patient big man. They block shots relatively well, but generally out of man to man sets. They don’t foul a lot, but when they do, it’s their forwards that do it. Further, they are barely national average at preventing opponent’s two point field goal percentage.

Enter Big Sean. He’s a patient big with the ability to shoot off either hand in the low post, keeping him from too many man to man rejections. Sean has been nails at the line this year as well, getting fouled on about 52% of his field goal attempts and converting 84% of those extra chances. Most crucially though, O’Mara is shooting a career high 68% inside the arc and a shockingly high 83% at the rim. When he’s caught the ball in the paint with time to work, he’s been next to unstoppable.

If that makes it seem like it’s simply a matter of getting the ball to Sean, well, therein lies the rub. O’Mara’s usage and shots percentages are both 19.3%, roughly that of Quentin Goodin and below Naji Marshall. Tyrique Jones also has higher usage and shots percentages than O’Mara, likely because he’s far more effective on the glass. That skill set will be needed this evening, but Xavier is also going to need someone who can get buckets without having to rely on a falling jumper. With Trevon Bluiett facing down Mikal Bridges and Q having to deal with the defensive attentions of Jalen Brunson, throwing the ball to the nimble big man might be the way to go.