Though still leading the team in scoring by a slim-margin, Davis has taken a slight step back in his scoring role over the last two games. He's still been in double-digits, but last game he only attempted five shots. He started off with a slow first half against Drexel, but then came up big in the second half with some key threes. He's had a great start to the season, especially shooting the ball as he's shooting 51.9 percent from beyond the arc on the year. His opponent, Carter, is very good in ball-screen situations. He leads Drake with 4.0 assists per game, while also pitching in with 12.0 points. He's not super aggressive in looking for his own shot, but he will knock down a jumper (including 3s) the second you back off of him. Xavier has done a pretty good job of defending ball-screens so far this season, and will have to continue to do so today. Carter is really the only guy who does much off of a ball-screen for Drake, but he really helps get their offense going by creating and getting some ball movement going. This is a good matchup for Xavier though, as Carter is playing a similar game to Davis right now, but isn't as talented.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon Fr (6-3, 187) vs Chris Hines Sr (6-1, 192)
Semaj broke out last game to lead the team with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while still racking up six assists. He's had no fewer than six assists in every game he's played so far, and his turnovers have been slowing down. He gives Xavier that pro-level player on the court that is really difficult to guard one-on-one and changes the game for the defense. His speed and feel in transition could be a major asset in this game as well as Drake likes to play a little bit faster. For Drake, Hines is the guy on the floor that's easy to forget about, because he's not very involved in their offense and has the lowest usage rate out of any of their starters, but at the same time he's scored in double-figures in two of the three games that he's played in this year. He's a good shooter from beyond the arc, but is also willing to step in and hit a mid-range jumper or cut to the basket. The key for Xavier in this matchup, regardless of who is guarding him, is not to lose him. He's good at spacing to find the open spot on the court, and then he can kill you if he gets open looks from beyond the arc.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Martin is coming off of one of his better performances of the year, finishing with 12 points and nine boards in the win over Drexel. He made all of his shot attempts in that game and all of his free-throws, while also giving a scrappy effort on defense and on the glass. That's the exact type of well-rounded performance and effort that Xavier needs out of him every single game. It'd be even nicer if they could keep him aggressive on the offensive end and not have him fade for stretches at a time too. Simons is Drake's best player and a tough matchup. It will be interesting to see who guards him for Xavier for the majority of the game. He's a big wing, but he likes to play on the perimeter for the most part. He's shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc. Martin has some length to matchup, but he's not known for his defensive ability, so it will be interesting to see what X does defensively against him. Simons will score it in different ways, and Drake will try to get him the ball anyway they can. He'll run in transition, come off screens to catch and shoot, they'll run dribble-handoffs for him and he'll slash to the basket. He is not an isolation player off the bounce or a guy who is going to post up.
Moderate Edge Drake
Robinson gave Xavier a nice effort against Drexel. He was aggressive looking for his shot in the first half, and then the Musketeers ran a few sets to free him up for easy looks under the basket in the second half. He also grabbed three offensive rebounds. Xavier needs him to do a better job of rebounding on the defensive end today against a pair of big post players for Drake that can really rebound it. Clarke is the most productive player on Drake's team, averaging a double-double with 12.5 points per game and 11.3 rebounds. He is also a good passer out of the post, so Xavier can't get sucked in defensively when the ball goes inside or he will find one of the shooters on the perimeter. They are going to have to do a good job being physical with Clarke in the post, and then keep him off the glass the best they can.
Moderate Edge Drake
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vs Seth VanDeest Jr (6-11, 269)
Taylor has another opportunity to prove himself against a bigger post player. He really struggled against Drexel's big guys on the offensive end. Even more importantly though, Xavier needs him to dominate the glass like he did for stretches of the Drexel game and during the second half of the Butler game. Xavier can't afford to give up second-chance points after working hard to get a missed shot defensively. VanDeest obviously has good size, and while he's not a dominant post player by any means, he can score inside a little bit. He has some back to the basket game, but also scores some of his points off of cuts to the basket or off of pick-and-rolls. Xavier needs to be physical with him and keep him off the boards as well.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Drake Bench
Xavier's bench definitely isn't one of their strengths, but bench production still plays a key role in the Musketeers' success. Redford provided a huge lift with his seven first-half points against Drexel. Any time he, Stenger or Philmore can come off the bench and provide some scoring, it's a big deal for this Xavier team, who sometimes struggles to score. Gary Ricks started two games this year, before Hines took his starting job, but he's a capable junior guard with experience that can come in and knock down shots. He's 6-for-11 from beyond the arc so far this season. Joey King, a 6-9 freshman forward, is another bench player that has been a regular contributor for the Bulldogs. He's averaging 6.2 points per game in just 15 minutes of action as a face-up forward. He doesn't bring much of a rebounding presence at all.
Slight Edge Drake
This matchup isn't going to be an easy one for Xavier at all, especially with the struggles they've had defensively with Drexel and Pacific shooting a high percentage against them. Drake is a team of shooters that scores most of its points off of spot up opportunities or in transition. The Musketeers have to make sure that they find King, Simons and Clarke in transition and in the half-court, while also keeping Carter out of the lane. Drake plays at a little faster of a tempo than the last few games Xavier has played, which should be a good thing for X as they seem to thrive off of transition baskets with Semaj and Dee both in the lineup. I'm giving Xavier the slight nod in what should be another good game out in Anaheim involving the Musketeers.
Score Prediction: Xavier 70 Drake 67