Villanova at Xavier Preview

VUSports previews Villanova's key match-up with Xavier on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m at the Cintas Center (TV: FOX) ...

#2 AP, Villanova takes on #24, Xavier Saturday afternoon at 2:30 (TV: FOX, Radio: 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).  With a win, Villanova (10-2 Big East) can grab a two game lead in the loss column at the top of the Big East conference standings.  Xavier (8-3 Big East) could edge to within a half of a game in the conference standings by beating ‘Nova.  

Villanova will be playing without the services of Darryl Reynolds, Phil Booth and Tim Delaney today.  Eric Paschall will start at the 5 and Dylan Painter will play some back-up minutes at that position.

Villanova Head Coach, Jay Wright is looking to secure career coaching win #500 (he is currently 499-244 (.672)).

Kenpom predicts a 72–69 win for the Cats with a 59% chance of Villanova grabbing a win.  ‘Nova leads the all-time series, 23-5.

The Musketeers are 18-6 this season with out-of-conference losses at Baylor (76-61), Colorado (68-66), and Cincinnati (86-78).  Xavier boasts out-of-conference wins over Clemson (83-77, Neutral), Utah (77-69, Home), and Wake Forest (69-65, Home).  In conference, Xavier has lost only to upper-division teams - @ Villanova, @ Butler and Creighton)  

Since Villanova’s 79-54 home win over Xavier at the Pavilion on January 10th, Xavier has experienced two personnel losses.  First Senior guard, Myles Davis left the program and then star point guard, Edmond Sumner suffered a season-ending ACL tear.  Xavier lost all three games that Davis played in this season (@ ‘Nova, @ Butler, and Creighton) and has won the three games since Sumner was injured (Seton Hall, @ Creighton, DePaul).  Frosh, point guard, Quentin Goodin has stepped up admirably to fill Sumner’s starting role (posting 20 assists in the three games).

Xavier (#14 RPI, #29 Kenpom) continues to play well on both ends of the floor.  Offensively, they have a balanced attack spear-headed by Trevon Bluiett (averaging 24.2 PPG over the past six games) and J.P. Macura.  Though not as talented at the 4 and 5 spots as they have been in recent seasons, the Musketeers are still a threat to score in the paint.  On the other end of the floor, Xavier uses height, length and switching defenses to be a solid defensive unit.  Known to play some pack line defense and 1-3-1 zone as well as man-to-man, Xavier is an interesting opponent for the Cats to game plan for - “X” generally guards the whole floor - not standing out as primarily a “three-point arc defending” nor a “paint defending” team.

Taking a look at the Four Factors for each team:

VUSports (data per Kenpom.com)

a few things stand out:

Both teams are above average in Effective FG %.  Cats are 5th in country

Both teams take care of the basketball and generally avoid turnovers

Xavier is a good offensive rebounding team and very good at preventing opponents from getting O Boards.  Villanova is average in grabbing offensive rebounds but does a good job on the offensive glass

Villanova should be able to get to the FT line more frequently than Xavier if past performance is any indication

other stats of interest:

Xavier is not the shot-blocking, rim-protecting team it has been the past few years

Xavier is average at shooting the three-ball and shooting free throws but shoots it well from two-point range

Both teams have been defending the three-point line better than they have been defending on the interior

The Cats have been very good shooting from two-point range and at the FT line

Xavier player thumbnails:

Trevon Bluiett (6-6, 198, Jr., 34.5 MPG, 18.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, 38.2% 3PFG, 51.3% 2PFG, 76.4% FT, 114.4 ORtg)  Blueitt can score it from all three levels and is a tough match-up.  He leads X in scoring and has improved as a defender and rebounder each year in the Musketeer program.  Villanova will throw a bunch of different players and looks at him to try to slow him down a bit but his versatility makes it hard to try anything too particular on him.  Blueitt is ranked the 3rd best player in the Big East statistically per kenpom.

J.P. Macura (6-5, 203, Jr., 32.0 MPG, 14.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 33.6% 3PFG, 52.3% 2PFG, 81.3% FT,  113.6 ORtg)  Macura is a good three-ball shooter who can get streaky hot from deep.  He plays with a hard-nosed style on both ends of the court.  Creates turnovers.  Dead-eye shooter from the FT line.

RaShid Gaston (6-9, 239, Sr., 19.6 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 0.7 APG, 55.0% 2PFG, 50.9% FT, 109.6 ORtg)  All of his offense comes inside the arc.  When in doubt, fouling him is a good option statistically because he is having a rough go of it at the free throw line.  Lacks passing and ball skills.  Best rebounder and shot-blocker for the Musketeers.

Sean O’Mara (6-10, 244, Jr., 12.4 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 57.8% 2PFG, 64.9% FT, 107.4 ORtg)  Another Xavier big man that doesn’t take the ball out on the perimeter on offense.    Plays a bunch of the back-up 5-man minutes.  Doing a good job on the glass.

Tyrique Jones (6-9, 237, Fr., 10.1 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.4 APG, 55.6% 2PFG, 53.6% FT, 109.0 ORtg)  Jones has been improving in regards to his offensive efficiency as the season progresses and he adjusts to the college game.  Like his teammates in the post, he doesn’t venture outside, converts a decent percentage of the looks he gets on the interior, but struggles at the free-throw line.  Good rebounder.

Quentin Goodin (6-4, 194, Fr., 17.3 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 36.0% 3PFG, 37.5% 2PFG, 54.2% FT, 91.0 ORtg)  Prefers to drive it vice shoot it from deep.  Try to force him to shoot threes, if he does get by you, don’t be afraid to send him to the line and make him earn the points.  Goodin has really stepped up his game in Sumner’s absence.  He is distributing the rock and showing more offensive versatility.  He is a good defender as well.

Malcolm Bernard (6-6, 202, Sr., 27.5 MPG, 5.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 38.5% 3PFG, 42.6% 2PFG, 40.3%  FG, 59.4% FT, 100.1 ORtg)  The Senior is stroking the three-ball well this season.  He gets a lot of minutes on the wing to provide defense and “opportunity scoring”.

Kaiser Gates (6-8, 228, So., 19.6 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 0.5 APG, 57.8% FG, 34.8% 3PFG, 43.5% 2PFG, 69.6% FT, 114.1 ORtg)  Missed a handful of early games due to injury.  Gates has been rebounding the ball very in conference games, knocking down the three-ball, valuing the rock and improving in terms of his offensive efficiency.  Steadily improving.

Injury: Phil Booth and Tim Delaney are expected to be out the remainder of the season.  Darryl Reynolds is listed as day-to-day.

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