Taylor is the lead man for the Colonials. He not only has to lead the team in scoring, but he also has to create for the rest of his teammates. A lot of the offensive responsibilities rest on his shoulders. He's a solid 3-point shooter (36.9%), but isn't a guy who usually jacks a lot of them up because of his duties as a facilitator. His last game out against Fordham he scored 17 points and dished out seven assists with two turnovers. Stopping Taylor isn't really the key, because he's going to get his to an extent. The key is not letting any of the other role players have big games. Holloway is coming off of one of his most complete performances this season, and at this point the team needs him to finish out the season that way. Coach Mack said he liked the "look in Holloway's eyes" during the game and not just on the court, but in the locker room and shoot-around as well. He plays like he did against Charlotte, and Xavier's chances of winning skyrocket.
Slight Edge Xavier
Kromah is one of the guys that have to be locked up. He is inconsistent, but when aggressive and "on" from the outside, he can provide another scorer to go with Taylor. He also has good size, and can be productive on the glass when playing with the right mindset. He lacks the lateral quickness that Xavier's guards have, so while the Colonials are going bigger with him at the two, they may pay with Xavier's quickness. Lyons struggled from the field in the Charlotte game, but came up with some big defensive plays, particularly late in the second half, to help the Musketeers escape with a win. Lyons' speed and athleticism should be a difference in this game. The Colonials may try and down Xavier's ball-screens like other teams have done, so Lyons and Holloway's decision-making when they have those one-on-one situations to the baseline will be important.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Dezmine Wells Fr (6-5, 215) vs Dwayne Smith, )
Smith is a guy who has seen his minutes increase dramatically since the beginning of the year, which is why he's only averaging 13 minutes per game. He started against Fordham and scored nine points in 30 minutes of action. He's got the size to be a good rebounder when he's aggressive, but he hasn't consistently played with that intensity this season. He's not much of a shooter from the outside. On the defensive end, he gets a little lazy at times and is foul prone. Wells bounced back against Charlotte with a big game, including a few big buckets down the stretch to secure the win, and has a good matchup against George Washington. The Colonials don't have an athlete of his caliber, and they aren't disciplined enough to box him out all the time and keep Xavier out of transition where he excels. If he crashes the glass, he could have a big scoring night, as George Washington has really struggled rebounding the ball as of late.
Slight Edge Xavier
Mikic is not a big scorer by any stretch of the imagination. He only averages 8.3 points per game, and shoots just 39 percent from the field. However, he's the most important player on the scouting report for Xavier. He's face-up four, that likes to spread the court and leads the team in 3-point makes and attempts. He shoots just 35.6 percent, but at this point, any face-up four has to be a major concern for Xavier with the way big men have shot the ball against them. Mikic has been on a little tear recently, scoring in double figures each of his last three games, including a 19 point output against Charlotte. While the team has not been rebounding well at all recently, Mikic did grab seven boards against Fordham and received praise from his coach this week for his improved effort on the boards. Robinson got in some foul trouble and saw just 16 minutes, despite starting against Charlotte. He never really got into the flow of the game and didn't do much. The five games before that he had played pretty well, so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back. The opportunity to go against a smaller, less athletic team that doesn't rebound well on the defensive end bodes well for him if he's aggressive.
Slight Edge George Washington
Kenny Frease Sr (7-0, 275) vs Jabari Edwards Sr (6-10, 223)
Edwards was a raw freshman who needed to add weight when he arrived at George Washington, and as a senior, he's still a pretty thin post with raw skills. He's still not much of a scoring factor at just 3.7 points per game. He basically scores on catch and dunk plays or easy points in transition. He does run the floor very well, and will try to take advantage of defenders napping. Frease had a pretty solid game against Charlotte. While his totals of 12 points and four rebounds don't necessarily jump out, he played with a little more drive offensively when attacking around the rim. He also did a very good job defensively against Braswell without fouling. Frease has another opportunity to take it at an undersized center who's a decent shot-blocker, but a little over-aggressive. Coach Mack said this team needs Frease to be good down the stretch for them to have a chance to really make some noise. Expect the team to continue to try to get him going on the offensive end.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs George Washington Bench
With David Pellom being out with an injury for another week or so, the Colonials are really only about eight deep off the bench. Aaron Ware is a 6-5, senior wing that gives them a little scoring punch. He's not a very good shooter, but he scores around the rim well and is a decent rebounder on the wing. Bryan Bynes is a 6-3 junior guard that isn't a major threat to score, but plays a very steady floor game. He doesn't turn the ball over and sees the floor well on offense. He is solid on the defensive end as well. John Kopriva has seen his minutes dwindle considerably after starting more than half of the season. His lack of production has led to a lack of playing time. Xavier's bench outscored Charlotte's bench 24-10 last game, as the Musketeers received nine points from Brad Redford and eight points from Travis Taylor. The Xavier reserves have all played better, for the most part, in the last few games, and Dee Davis along with Travis Taylor May see some increased minutes.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier has to do two things much better than what they've been doing them, and that's rebound and defend without fouling. The Musketeers are seventh in the conference in rebounds per game, and third in fouls per game. Those two numbers should be and need to be reversed. On the defensive end, Xavier can lock up for possessions at a time. In too many instances though, a breakdown here and there and another at the end of the half, add up into significant points for the other team. Combine that with trips to the free-throw line, because of bad fouls and over-fouling in general and opponents are finding ways to stay in the game. Xavier's effort was there on Saturday night against Charlotte, but they need to sustain focus and effort for a full 40 minutes to dominate the conference the rest of the way. George Washington is flat out not a very good team this year. If the Musketeers defend with energy from the beginning then they should be able to hold on to a lead in the second half. The Colonials struggle big time to score, especially if you deny them easy transition points off turnovers. If Xavier takes care of the ball and defends for the whole game, the Musketeers get a double-digit win.
Score prediction: Xavier 71 George Washington 61