I'm going to assume that Davis isn't starting tomorrow, though that's purely speculation on my part, as Mack has stated that it will be a game-time decision. Christon will have a lot of pressure on him to handle the offense and score, with no real opportunity to slide off the ball in this game. He's had his struggles finishing around the rim, and George Washington is a long, athletic team that does a good job challenging shots inside. The Colonials don't have a great answer for Christon though, when it comes to a guard with the defensive prowess to lock him down. If he can get in some isolation opportunities and his mid-range game is going, he could have a big game. McDonald has had a rough go of it to start his freshman year. He's turned it over at an alarming rate, and he's a sporadic shooter. He's done a better job of limiting the turnovers over the last handful of games, but is still shaky running GW's offense. The Colonials don't really have any other options at point though, so he plays a lot of minutes. If there is a good game for Davis to miss for Xavier, this might be the one.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Brad Redford Sr (6-1, 182) vs Patricio Garino Fr (6-6, 203)
If I'm right and Davis doesn't start, Redford may get the start, though there is the outside chance we see X just go with a bigger lineup, and start Martin with Robinson and Philmore to combat GW's size, but for now we'll stick with Redford. The senior came up with two huge threes during Xavier's decisive run in the second half of the Temple win. While his role may be limited, it's become extremely important to this Xavier team that is thin on guards and scoring talent. Garino is a talented freshman averaging 9.7 points per game and 2.7 assists. He's versatile on the defensive end, and he has the ability to explode on the offensive end for a big game. He scored 24 points, and shot it 17 times in a loss to Bradley early in December. He'll usually get at least one 3-point attempt up per game, but is a below average shooter from the perimeter. Xavier has to keep this youngster in check though, as he has the ability to elevate the Colonials' team when he gets going offensively.
Slight Edge George Washington
When you go back and look at the second half of the Temple game, Justin Martin was really important to the Musketeers' win. He had the steal and pull-up in transition to tie it up at 35-35 early in the second half that brought Xavier all the way back after Temple's run to start the half. He also had a big three, and an important tip-in late in the game. The Musketeers need him to build off of that second half effort, and get back on track to where he was before sitting out that Kent State game with a concussion. He'll be especially important in this game against GW's size and rebounding ability. He needs to bring a presence in both areas for X. Kromah is an A-10 veteran, and can do a little bit of everything. He's solid on the defensive end, passes it pretty well on offense, finishes in the paint well and will rebound a little bit. He's not usually a game-changing type of player, but he can score rather efficiently at times, racking up 12-14 points on just four or five shots.
Jeff Robinson Sr (6-10, 225) vs Isaiah Armwood Jr (6-9, 210)
Robinson has his share of miscues in the win over Temple, but overall it was a much better performance from the senior compared to what we have been seeing over the past month. He made a big contribution on the glass with seven rebounds, and came up with a huge steal on one of Temple's final possessions that kind of took them into desperation mode after that point. The Musketeers need the same type of tireless effort on the glass that he gave in the Temple game, and they need him to be aware and tough on defense, as his length will be a big key against this big GW team. Armwood is a special defensive talent, that has 44 blocks on the season, which gives him the 11th most in the nation and most in the A-10. He plays over 30 minutes a game, so he blocks all these shots while managing to stay out of foul trouble, and thus is a presence for the majority of the game aroudn the rim on defense. He's averaging 12.6 points per game on offense, and has been pretty reliable for the Colonials finishing on the offensive end. He doesn't have much back to the basket game, but he likes to face up, and will shoot mid-range jumpers or slash to the basket. He's also a very good defensive rebounder, and averages 8.7 boards per game.
Moderate Edge George Washington
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vs Kevin Larsen Fr (6-10, 264)
Taylor has been steady for the last seven games or so for Xavier, scoring in double figures in his last five straight, with four double-doubles in that stretch. He has become a reliable scorer on the block, and even when he's not having his best game, like Thursday against Temple, he gets the job done by scoring seven points at the free-throw line to finish with 11 total, hauling in 10 boards and playing really solid defensively. It will be interesting to see who they put on Taylor. He's struggled with some bigger players, mostly earlier in the year, which Larsen would be, but at the same time Armwood is the much better defender that would have a better chance at slowing down X's top offensive option in the post. Larsen is a big-bodied freshman that has some promise. He's rather efficient offensively, and finishes at a high percentage. He's also a good offensive rebounder, that carves out space well when trying to gain position at times. He's not a huge part of the Colonials plan of attack, but will finish when he gets dump-off opportunities. He's an average defender that plays a little soft at times and is a little slow, but he doesn't foul much and can block some shots and rebound.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs George Washington Bench
The biggest key will be whether or not Xavier has Dee Davis. If they don't, they'll be very thin at the guard spot, and they'll be really screwed if Semaj starts cramping up. Philmore gave the Musketeers a couple of early offensive rebounds against Temple, but that was about it. He needs to provide more of a spark. Expect Amos to get a fair amount of minutes in another game that figures to be a tough, defensive grinder, similar to the Temple match-up, especially if Davis can't go. George Washington actually has a fairly deep rotation, but it isn't necessarily all that talented. Bryan Bynes' is the sixth man off the bench, who comes in to spell McDonald at the point. He's a poor shooter, and doesn't bring a whole lot to the floor. Dwayne Smith is the guy to watch, as he's provided a big spark in a few different games on the offensive end. He averages 6.4 points per game in just 11.9 minutes. They also have a pair of forwards in Nemanja Mikic and John Kopriva. Mikic will step out and hit the three if left open.
Slight Edge George Washington
The Musketeers are coming off of a big win over Temple, and are now trying to turn that win into some momentum to start Atlantic-10 play. George Washington would appear to be another pretty favorable match-up for Xavier. Like Temple, they don't have a playmaking point guard, and they don't shoot it well from the outside at all. They're just not a very good offensive team, and the offense they do get comes from their bigger wings and forwards scoring in the paint mostly. The Colonials are 10th in the nation when it comes to percentage of points scored on 2-point field goals at 64.6 percent of their points. Xavier can really try to pressure the ball and make them uncomfortable, while crowding the court and clogging the driving lanes to the paint up. Not having to make sure they get out on shooters really makes it easier to keep the ball out of the lane. Both teams are pretty good defensively, while they're also both pretty poor offensively, with the Colonials being even poorer than Xavier on that end. Expect another low-scoring, defensive slugfest, but Xavier should have the upper-hand in this one, barring a letdown from the Temple win.
Score Prediction: Xavier 58 George Washington 52