Both of these guys have to be looking forward to this matchup as they're somewhat similar players, and it's one of the few games where neither one of them will be giving up a big size advantage. Dee Davis has been excellent on both sides of the ball so far this season. His defensive performance against Rotnei Clarke was the key to winning the Butler game, and his 6-of-11 start from beyond the arc has been huge for this offense. On the defensive end, look for Davis to apply a lot of ball pressure on Velton Jones. Jones is the Colonials top scorer at 12.7 points per game and he brings a lot of play-making ability to the floor, but he also has a tendency to get a little out of control and plays too careless at times. Jones is not a great shooter, from distance or otherwise, but he's definitely not shy about pulling the trigger. Another defensive effort on the perimeter like the one we saw against Butler would cut off the head of this RMU offense and allow Xavier to roll to a win.
Slight Edge Xavier
Justin Martin has played solid basketball to start the season for X. The most important part of his play has been his consistent effort so far. He was the same player in game two against Butler as he was in the opener against Fairleigh Dickinson. He's hustling and in the right spot on defense, crashing the glass hard on every shot, willing to pass, not turning the ball over and he's still yet to hit a 3-point shot, which is what he probably does best. He'll be going against a guy in Coron Williams that is a sneaky assignment because he isn't very aggressive, or even that involved in RMU's offense, but he's an efficient scorer. Williams scores most of his points off of spot up jumpers or coming off of screens, so Xavier can't blow defensive assignments and let him get going with easy jumpers early on. If they do a good job of closing out on him, he shouldn't be much of a factor.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Jeff Robinson Sr (6-10, 225) vs Lucky Jones So (6-5, 195)
Jeff Robinson provided a big-time boost for Xavier's offense against Butler, especially in the first half. Robinson is the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder with 16.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds. When he's aggressive on the offensive end, taking rhythm jump-shots and attacking the rim off the bounce, he brings another dimension to this Xavier offense and creates matchup problems for opponents. He could really take advantage of that today as the Colonials really don't have anyone with his size and athleticism to put on him. On the flip-side, the Musketeers will have to do a good job defensively against Jones. The sophomore started last year as a freshman because of the offensive firepower he brings, and he's made strides in the offseason. Last game against Fordham he scored 15 in the win and grabbed nine rebounds. He's active and they use him a lot on offense. He can score in multiple ways, whether it be in isolation, coming off a screen or just spotting up, but he's best when he's getting to the free-throw line where he shoots above 80 percent.
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vs Vaughn Morgan Jr (6-6, 235)
Travis Taylor is coming off his best game in a Xavier uniform. The breakout game that everyone was waiting to see from him couldn't have come at a better time for Xavier. He was great against Butler, scoring consistently on isolations in the post and absolutely dominating the defensive boards in the second half. He obviously has a long way to go before this becomes a trend, but Taylor currently leads Xavier in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double with 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He's also added 3.0 assists per game. Vaughn Morgan hasn't done too much offensively so far for the Colonials, but the JUCO transfer from Southwestern Christian College in Texas has made his impact felt on the defensive side of the ball, blocking nine shots in his first three games. At 6-foot-6, Morgan uses his wide body and long arms to his advantage on defense and on the offensive glass where he's a plus rebounder. Xavier will have to try and counter against his girth with their height and athleticism.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Erik Stenger Jr (6-8, 207) vs Mike McFadden Jr (6-8, 220)
It's clear that Erik Stenger isn't going to quite play starter minutes, but the energy he brings to start the game may be worthy of leaving him in the starting lineup regardless. He didn't score in the Butler game, but he played his role, hitting the glass hard, playing tough on defense and then in the second half he came up with one of the biggest plays of the game by diving headfirst after a loose ball to force a tie up and give Xavier another possession during their stretch run. He needs to be physical with McFadden, who has been up-and-down to start the season, with his best game coming in the loss against Lehigh when he scored 13 points and had 13 boards. He has been very good from the free-throw line so far this season, after shooting 52.2 percent from the charity stripe last year.
Xavier Bench vs Butler Bench
Semaj Christon will definitely be an X-factor in this game. He's going to play, which will make a difference regardless, but he should be a lot more aggressive than he was in the Butler game as that infection starts to heal. Despite having a thin rotation, Xavier has actually gotten great production from their bench so far this season, thanks in large part to Brad Redford. Redford is averaging 14 points per game right now in just 19.5 minutes of action. The Blonde-Bomber is 9-of-11 from distance to start the year, and has provided a nice emotional lift for this young team. James Farr should also get some minutes in this one, and should matchup well inside with McFadden. The Colonials will go about eight deep, with junior guard Karvel Anderson playing starter-like minutes and being their second-leading scorer. Anderson scored 16 against Fordham and also hauled in 7 rebounds. Anderson has no conscience when he comes in the game and is wired to score. He's good in transition and very good at shooting off of dribble-handoffs, but he's not a knockdown shooter from the outside. Despite Xavier's lack of depth, they've actually had the better bench in both of their first two games.
Expectations are being re-calibrated with this Xavier team, following their impressive win over Butler. The Musketeers are young and a little thin, but they have bought in completely on the defensive end so far, which is usually the key to most Xavier teams' success. On the offensive end, they've been completely unselfish, while also seeing some key upperclassmen step up as needed. This game is one where it's all about Xavier playing its game and taking care of business. If they do that, they'll be fine against a sub-par Robert Morris team. However, if they have a letdown following the big Butler win, the Colonials are definitely good enough to hang around in this one and make it interesting. This Xavier team can't take any games for granted this year.
Score Prediction: Xavier 78 Rober Morris 68