Scout.com's Brian Snow was able to breakdown the matchup with Xavier.
Wildcat Authority: Are you surprised to see Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen?
Brian Snow: I’m not necessarily surprised at it. Now, would I have bet on them to advance this far when the brackets came out, no, but I wouldn’t say I am surprised. This isn’t a team that came in as a 13 seed who got in because they won their conference tournament on a three-point shot. It’s unexpected, but not surprising.
WA: How well does Xavier match up with Arizona?
Snow: No one really matches up well with Arizona; they’re a top five team in the country for a reason. However, for a program that isn’t in the top five, or one of those elite teams, it can create issues for Arizona due to the size of Xavier’s frontline. Xavier can also match Arizona’s physicality, something the Wildcats haven’t faced a lot of this season.
It’s not everyday that a team has a center at 6-foot-10, 270 pounds and their starting power forward is 6-foot-10, 250 and Xavier’s third post, who actually gets more minutes at power forward, is 6-foot-9, 240 pounds and a freak athlete. Arizona tends to overwhelm opponents with their size, but that won’t be the case against Xavier.
It provides some intrigue to the game, and Xavier has some nice pieces to their team, too. They have veteran leadership at point guard and any time you bring that into big games you have an opportunity.
WA: Are there any individual matchups matchups you’ve keyed in on?
Snow: I’m looking to the post players for this one, Kaleb Tarczewski and Matt Stainbrook. Stainbrook has been Xavier’s best player for the past couple of weeks. Like I said, he’s 6-foot-10, 270-pounds and he’s a really great passer. He has a great touch around the rim and good hands, but he isn’t a great athlete.
On the other side of things, Kaleb isn’t a shot-blocking center, so he’s going to have to be disciplined and not pick up fouls by going for pump-fakes and things like that. Then I look at Brandon Ashley, he probably hasn’t played against many people that are just as big as him, but more athletic, and that’s the case with Jalen Reynolds. Reynolds is more athletic and a little longer than Brandon.
Jalen is a guy with a lot of upside. He’s not on Brandon’s level as a player, so he is going to have to take advantage of that with ball fakes and trying to get Jalen in foul trouble. Jalen is a better natural talent, Brandon is a better player right now and he has to use that to his advantage or it could be very interesting.
WA: What does Xavier need to do in order to pull of the upset over Arizona?
Snow: Arizona doesn’t beat a lot of teams with their first shot; they beat teams with their second and third shot opportunities. Xavier cannot let Arizona dominate the offensive glass and get multiple opportunities to score. I doubt Miller doubles in the post much. I do think Xavier’s bigs have the edge in terms of ability to score, but Miller is confident in Tarczewski and Ashley to hold their own in one-on-one opportunities.
Xavier’s bigs need to find their rythem early and keep it going throughout the game. Also, they’re going to need to hit their open threes. Xavier can’t beat Arizona making twos. When they get open looks, guys like Trevon Bluiett and Remy Abell are going to have to hit threes, if they don’t I’m confident they won’t beat Arizona.
WA: Who wins and why?
Snow: I think Arizona wins because they’re the better team. It won’t be a blowout, and it won’t be that high scoring of game – I doubt either team pushes the pace. I would say Arizona scores 67, 68 points and Xavier scores 60.