Davis is coming off of one of his best performances of the year, as he scored 14 points and played really strong defense against Kevin Dillard Wednesday night. He needs to be aggressive from the beginning of the game like he was against Dayton, because it forces the defense to open up a little more and spreads them out to help Christon, Taylor and the rest of the offense. Davis' defense will be key again, as Richmond scores a lot of points from the perimeter. Lindsay is a regular starter for this Richmond team, but his role might be a little more important today as Kendall Anthony is listed as questionable, and is unlikely to play from what I've heard. Lindsay is much more of a pure point and distributor than Anthony anyway, but Anthony does help with ballhandling and playmaking, plus he adds scoring pop. Lindsay averages 9.5 points per game, but, in addition to running the team, they might need a little more out of him offensively in this one.
Semaj Christon Fr (6-3, 187) vs Darien Brothers Sr (6-3, 200)
Christon has been Xavier's rock all season, and at this point, it's more about what the Musketeers get to go around him then it is about how he plays. We know what to expect out of Christon throughout the course of the game, we're usually just left waiting to see if the freshman can make the winning plays down the stretch in tight games - and this one will likely be no exception. Like Christon, Brothers is a big-time difference maker on the court. Unlike Christon though, he does a lot of his damage shooting the basketball. Brother leads the Atlantic-10 in 3-point percentage at 47.4 percent, and he's certainly not shy about taking them. X will have to be all over him, and it will have to be a team effort to keep him in check, as Richmond does a great job of using dribble-handoffs and other tactics to free their shooter.
Justin Martin So (6-6, 205) vs Greg Robbins Sr (6-5, 220)
Martin showed some signs of life against Dayton on Wednesday. He didn't get his 3-point shot going, finishing 0-for-3 from beyond the arc, but he found a way to impact the game in other ways and kept his motor running high. He looked to drive the ball a few times when he caught it on the wing, and was attacking the offensive glass. He finished with eight points and five boards and topped it off with a fine defensive effort. Xavier needs that same type of production today. Robbins is an undersized wide-body forward with some skill and strength. He has a pretty low usage rate, but when he does have the ball he's a good passer and he's capable of knocking down the open jumper. He only averages 6.8 per contest, and he's not a great rebounder at just 3.5 boards per game.
Slight Edge Xavier
Jeff Robinson Sr (6-10, 225) vs Deion Taylor Fr (6-7, 180)
Robinson stepped up huge in the Dayton game with 12 points, five boards, and some big-time momentum plays for the Musketeers. He was aggressive for sure, but maybe more importantly he was locked in and aware on both ends of the court. He played well on defense, played above the rim when rebounding, and didn't have any careless mistakes. Robinson could provide the Musketeers with a big advantage because of Richmond's lack of size if he comes ready to play, but at the senior has yet to play at a high level consistently. Taylor is a thin freshman that lacks strength, and is part of the reason this team struggles to rebound the ball. He isn't involved in the offense too much, but he's another skilled guy that is going to hang out on the perimeter and wait for open 3-point looks. He can knock them down too, as he's hitting at a 46.2 percent clip on the season. Xavier has to dominate Taylor and the rest of Richmond's thinner bigs in the post.
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vs Alonzo Nelson-Ododa Fr (6-9, 210)
Taylor has been an absolute monster on the glass, haulling in double-digit rebounds in eight of the last 11 games, including 11 boards Wednesday against Dayton when he helped Xavier dominate the offensive boards. This could be a huge game for Taylor as Richmond's bigs aren't great defensively, and they'll definitely struggle to keep him off the offensive glass. Nelson-Odada isn't on the court to score. He averages just 3.5 points per game, but he does add some legit length to their undersized lineup, in addition to a fairly legit rebounding presence. On the defensive end, he's a good shot blocker and uses his length to get deflections, but he struggles to hold position inside. He is a solid rebounder.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Richmond Bench
The Musketeers could be down a man in this one, as Isaiah Philmore is still nursing the ankle he sprained against Dayton. Mack made it sound like he wouldn't play today, but also added that he was pleasantly surprised by the progress Philmore has already made. Other than that, Redford should be back to full health, after dealing with the flu last week, and Stenger and Amos will be ready to go. Richmond is usually a team that goes fairly deep, but both Kendal Anthony and Derrick Williams are listed as questionable. Williams, a 6-6, 270-pound forward, is the huge key here, as he averages 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds when he's healthy, but he's missed the last eight games. Anthony, a 5-8 point guard, is wired to score, but he's unlikely to play with a knee injury. That leaves the Spiders with sophomore guard Wayne Sparrow (6-3) and a pair of freshman forwards in Trey Davis (6-5) and Terry Allen (6-8). All three of those guys are role players at best at this stage in their careers.
This is a very interesting game on paper, and a very big game for Xavier because of the current A-10 standings and the rest of the Musketeers' conference schedule. Richmond is ranked slightly ahead of X by KenPom, 87 vs 90, and the Musketeers are ranked slightly higher in the RPI, 70 vs 73. Both teams have been great at home this year, and have struggled on the road. Richmond is 11-1 this season when playing in the Robins Center. Richmond with its Princeton offense actually plays a little faster than X, and scores more points, but they're not great on the defensive side of the ball. The Spiders play an undersized lineup, and as a result they really struggle to keep opposing teams off the offensive glass, which is something that Xavier does really well with, and really even relies on now to score points. The Spiders do shoot the ball well, and they shoot it often, with 43 percent of their shot attempts coming from beyond the arc and 36.1 percent of their points coming off 3-pointers. Xavier's perimeter's defense has been pretty good this season, holding teams to just 31.8 percent from deep. This will not be an easy game for the Musketeers to win by any means, especially with Richmond coming off back-to-back road losses. But if the Musketeers close out properly and limit the Spiders' advantage from the perimeter, and dominate the paint and offensive glass the way they did against Dayton on Wednesday, they should have a pretty good shot to pull this one off.
Score Prediction: Xavier 68 Richmond 65