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Xavier’s best lineups have a notable absence

At least, according to some data I found online.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Butler
Like the fearsome drop bears of Australia, Kerem springs upon unsuspecting victims from above.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

I was messing around on the internet today and stumbled across this. Some guy or gal on Reddit claims to have analyzed all the play-by-play data that involves lists of substitutions and come up with each team’s best lineups. This is obviously of interest to me.

The big caveat here is that I can’t verify his data. This would be a weird prank to play with no obvious payoff, but somebody is planting the Toynbee tiles, so who knows. Anyway, here are Xavier’s best five-man lineups, according to an anonymous stranger on Reddit:

Team O Poss D Poss P1Name P2Name P3Name P4Name P5Name Team O Rtg Team D Rtg Net Rating
Xavier 57 62 Bluiett,Trevon Goodin,Quentin Macura,J.P. Marshall,Naji O'Mara,Sean 1.456 0.903 0.553
Xavier 165 154 Bluiett,Trevon Gates,Kaiser Goodin,Quentin Macura,J.P. O'Mara,Sean 1.085 0.799 0.286
Xavier 258 252 Bluiett,Trevon Gates,Kaiser Goodin,Quentin Jones,Tyrique Macura,J.P. 1.283 1.008 0.275
Xavier 124 102 Bluiett,Trevon Gates,Kaiser Goodin,Quentin Kanter,Kerem Macura,J.P. 1.185 1.118 0.068
Xavier 54 57 Bluiett,Trevon Gates,Kaiser Macura,J.P. O'Mara,Sean Scruggs,Paul 0.963 0.912 0.051
Xavier 155 154 Bluiett,Trevon Goodin,Quentin Kanter,Kerem Macura,J.P. Marshall,Naji 1.232 1.24 -0.008

That’s sortable, so you can click around and see which lineups are best by offense or defense or most JP’s involved.

Not too much about this seems too counter-intuitive to me. The lineup of Trevon Bluiett, Quentin Goodin, JP Macura, Naji Marshall, and Sean O’Mara is ostensibly Xavier’s best thanks to its incredible offensive capabilities. Throw the ball to the big man, have Q and Naji run off him while Tre and JP spot up. Buckets all day.

Defensively, swap out Kaiser Gates for Naji and you’re locking opponents down. That seems a little more questionable to me, largely because of the massive drop off in offensive production, but I’m willing to go with it.

The caution with this data is that it’s season-long and not adjusted for any sort of context. That top lineup is a good one, but we don’t know if the bulk of those numbers came against Villanova (probably not though) or Morehead State. Conversely, some of the other lineups may have worse numbers not because they played worse but because they were working against better opponents.

Also, these are just lineups that have spent more than 50 possessions on the floor at each end together. Kerem Kanter is probably part of Xavier’s best lineup, but he spent some of the early season getting up to speed instead of harvesting stops and buckets. This data is good for some fun and a little background info, but don’t abandon what your eyes are telling you because of it.