Davis showed up huge the last time these teams played a few weeks ago at Cintas. He made a huge difference in all areas of the game. He was great guarding Dillard when he spent time on him, he was aggressive on offense when looking for his shot, and he knocked down some big free-throws and 3-pointers. The Musketeers will need another strong performance out of the sophomore to help negate the Flyers' strong backcourt. Dillard is the key cog in the Dayton offense, and last time Xavier did such a great job of guarding him and handling all of the ball-screens set for him that it completely disrupted the Flyers' offense. Being just as tough this time around against the ball-screens that they constantly set for him will be the key.
Moderate Edge Dayton
Christon didn't have his best game the last time around against Dayton, especially shooting-wise, as he finished just 6-of-14 from the floor. However, he did come up with a huge, clutch shot in the final minute of the game that basically won it for Xavier. His defensive effort was also important, as he spent time on both Dillard and Sanford. He needed some help the first time around against the Flyers, and that was at home. His first experience at UD Arena probably won't be the smoothest, so help from the rest of the rotation will be key. Sanford had a big game the last time around, finishing with a game-high 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. He also made some plays with three assists and only one turnover. The Musketeers focused heavily on Dillard last time, and that's most important because of Dillard's ability to make everyone else around him better, but expect them to be a little bit tougher against Sanford on the defensive end today.
Slight Edge Xavier
Martin actually had a decent game the last time these two teams met, even though his stat line isn't all that impressive. He finished just 3-of-8 from the field with eight points and five rebounds, but it was the effort and confidence he played with that made all the difference. He was aggressive looking for his shot, shooting jumpers off the catch, and even attacking the lane off of the bounce a little bit. He's continued to pick up his play since then, and is coming off of one of his best games of the year, where he finished with 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, against Fordham. Pierre is a lanky wing, who was average the last time they played. He had seven points, and did so on just 2-of-4 shooting, including 1-of-2 from beyond the arc. He didn't really have any impact on the glass. X can't let him get it going from three though, as it'd be tough to overcome any extra scoring.
Slight Edge Xavier
Jeff Robinson Sr (6-10, 225) vs Devin Oliver Jr (6-7, 225)
Robinson was the big hero from last game. The senior stepped up with the Jimmy Carter streak on the line, and played like he didn't want it to end. He took seven first half shots, and connected on four of them, giving him eight points to lead Xavier at intermission. He finished with 12 points and five boards for the game, and was super aggressive, finishing with two monster dunks. The Musketeers need a similar performance to pull off the win on the road. Oliver has been a beast on the boards all season long for Dayton, and he played decent with six rebounds at Cintas. However, the rest of his team absolutely got punked on the glass, and he wasn't exactly slowing down the Musketeers on the offensive boards. Oliver is most effective when he's working the offensive glass and getting put-backs. Xavier needs to make sure he's as small of a factor in this game as he was in the game at Cintas.
Taylor didn't have a huge game offensively last time around against Dayton, finishing with just eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, but he did absolutely dominate on the boards. He finished with 11 rebounds for the game, and set the tone for Xavier's absurd advantage on the glass. That toughness and mentality he brings is more important than anything else he does for this team. It will be even more important on the road in that crazy arena. Benson was a complete non-factor in the first match-up. He had just three points on two shot attempts, and he only had one rebound. He was one of the biggest reasons that the Musketeers absolutely dominated inside. He just flat-out didn't show up with any type of heart or pride in that game. It will be interesting to see if he comes out and uses that to fuel him in a big game at home, or if he allows the Musketeers to control the paint with as little resistance as he gave them last time.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Dayton Bench
The first meeting between these teams was one of the first games that we started to see Isaiah Philmore start to break out a little bit, as he finished with 8 points on 4-of-4 shooting, before leaving the game with an ankle injury. The Flyers didn't seem to have an answer for his strength underneath when he was in there. He has continued to play well and has become and important piece for Xavier over the last few games since then. In Cincinnati, 6-9 freshman forward Jalen Robinson was a bright spot off the bench. He made a few nice post moves, and finished with six points and 3 boards, though he wasn't exactly a huge difference-maker. Thy also got nine points from Matt Derenbecker off the bench on a 3-of-5 shooting performance from beyond the arc.
Slight Edge Dayton
This is a very tough game to predict. On one hand, it's hard to imagine the Musketeers going up to UD Arena and controlling the game the way they did last time to come out with a victory, especially the way X has fared on the road. On the other hand, it's also hard to predict them losing to this Dayton team with the way they so thoroughly punked them inside in that first game. The Musketeers just flat out took it to them in the paint, and completely out-toughed the Flyers. The Musketeers have a little momentum going right now, while Dayton is in a little bit of turmoil. If X is able to jump on top early and quiets that crowd a little bit, it could help both teams continue on their current trends. Either way this one goes, it'd hard to imagine that it's much more than a few possession game either way. Enjoy another nail-biter between these two teams, I'm taking X, with Christon winning it late in the final minute again.
Score Prediction: Xavier 64 Dayton 62