Garret is a big point guard that began starting five games into the season and moved Brandon Young off the ball some. He's attempted the most threes on DePaul's team, though he's shooting just 28.9 percent. He's not shy at all on the offensive end. In the 14 games that he's started, he's attempted 10 or more shots in all but four of them. He also does a great job of getting to the free-throw line where he shoots 86.9 percent. From the field, he's shooting just 34.6 percent. Davis continued to play well in the Musketeers' comeback win over Georgetown. He finished with 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. He made two big threes and dished out seven assists while only turning the ball over once. Taking good care of the ball will be a big key in this game as the Blue Demons are at their best when they're able to create turnovers and generate transition opportunities.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon So (6-3, 190) vs Charles McKinney Jr (6-3, 184)
McKinney is a defensive specialist that has been inserted into the starting lineup recently as Oliver Purnell has opted to go with a three-guard lineup. Not known for his offensive skill, the junior guard is rarely even a threat to attempt to score, unless he gets a steal that leads to an opportunity. He is, however, coming off of his best offensive performance of the season with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting in the Blue Demons' loss to Villanova. Christon has been playing at a high level of late. His last four games have been outstanding. He's been providing the team with go-to scorer production, while being super efficient, and also doing lots of other things well. In the win over Georgetown he had three steals to go along with his 18-points. His teammates around him have also shown that they can function just fine with out him on the floor, which definitely wasn't the case a season ago, or even less than two months ago in the Bahamas. Purnell is likely going to tell McKinney that his only responsibility is to slow down Christon as much as possible.
Significant Edge Xavier
Justin Martin Jr (6-6, 205) vs Brandon Young Sr (6-4, 192)
Young is a combo guard that has the highest usage rate on the team. He scores a lot of his points on drives to the basket, short jumpers or free-throws. He's been a double-digit scorer every year that he's been on campus at DePaul, and is second on the team in scoring this year at 14.5 points per game. He also leads the team in assists with 4.1 per game. He's scored in double-figures in each of the last four games, but in the loss to Villanova on Saturday he was just 4-of-14 form the field with 13 points. Martin stretched his streak of double-figure scoring performances to five in a row against Georgetown with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. it definitely wasn't his best game, but he also found a way to make an impact without knocking down shots right away. He continued shooting with confidence even when they weren't going down early, and finished with two important threes on a 2-for-7 day from beyond the arc. He also grabbed seven boards, had two assists, a steal and a block. His effort on the glass is always such a big boost to X, and this game it will be key because of the Blue Demons' length and size at the forward position.
Slight Edge DePaul
Isaiah Philmore Sr (6-8, 237) vs Cleveland Melvin Sr (6-8, 208)
Melvin is the best player on DePaul's team and the top scorer at 16.3 points per game. He's an athletic face-up forward that has always been able to get rebounds, stickbacks, dunks and points off of slashing to the rim, but he's really developed his jump-shot and is hitting at a 47 percent clip from beyond the arc this year on 66 attempts. He leads the team in 3-pointers made. He's a good rebounder that is more of a problem on the offensive end where he's good at going and getting the ball in an effort to convert second-chance points. Philmore had a strong game against Georgetown with 14 points and five rebounds, plus he made 6-of-7 free-throws. Melvin is quite a challenge for Philmore to match-up with because he's giving up athleticism and quickness to the fellow Maryland native, plus he's forced to extend out and guard him on the perimeter. Keep an eye on this match-up because Melvin is the one guy that the Musketeers really don't have a great answer for on the defensive end.
Moderate Edge DePaul
Matt Stainbrook Jr (6-10, 263) vs Tommy Hamilton Fr (6-10, 284)
Hamilton is one of the first centers we've seen that is equal to or bigger than Stainbrook in both height and weight, but he's also unique in that he isn't just a space-eating back to the basket big man; he's a skilled player that has hit 16-of-31 3-point attempts on the season. Despite his massive frame, only 42 percent of Hamilton's shots come at the rim. The numbers say he's a decent rebounder at both ends of the court, but he can be better than decent when he's playing with a high motor. The Blue Demons are asking a lot out of their freshman center, and he's responded well while learning on the fly. He's had his ups and downs, but he's scored in double-digits for the last three games, including a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in a 99-94 win over Butler. Stainbrook will have an edge inside. He's got the strength and experience advantage of being a fourth year junior. It's going to be interesting to see how this match-up plays out in other areas though. Big men that can stretch the floor have given Stainbrook some trouble already this year, so he'll have to be ready for DePaul to try to get him caught up in pick-and-pop situations or other instances where they really get him stretched out. He had some issues finishing inside against Georgetown and got an unfriendly whistle, but he still made a big impact with eight rebounds and six assists. Expect Stainbrook to help the Musketeers win the battle inside, but this is definitely a match-up that could swing the game if the freshman from DePaul outplays him.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs DePaul Bench
DePaul is not a very deep team. Purnell will really only play eight significant contributors with another guy or two that can eat up some minutes. The first man off the bench most often is senior wide-body Sandi Marcius (6-9, 255). The Blue Demons will move Cleveland over to the three and play big with Hamilton sliding over to the four. They'll also bring 6-1 sophomore Durrell McDonald in for McKinney when they want to stay with the three-guard lineup. McDonald, like McKinney, shines on the defensive end where he's second on the team in steals with an average of 1.3 per game, despite playing only 16 minutes. On the offensive end, he's mostly just looking for shots from the perimeter where he's shooting 45.2 percent on the year. Junior Greg Sequele (6-9, 215) provide some depth inside, and classmate Jamee Crocket (6-4, 207) is another wing that can shoot the three a little bit. Xavier has been going with an eight-man rotation for the most part as well, though they have 10 that they can get quality minutes from when you add Jalen Reynolds and Erik Stenger into the mix the frontcourt. Both of those guys have some athleticism that might be needed against Cleveland Melvin, or if the Blue Demons go to a big lineup. Keep an eye on Myles Davis. He looks to be breaking out of his slump after hitting a big three to give X the lead back in the second half of the Georgetown win.
Slight Edge Xavier
DePaul is a team that lacks scoring and shooters, and they actually rank even worse defensively when it comes to adjusted efficiency. The Blue Demons need turnovers and transition opportunities to jump start their offense, and if they don't get them then they half trouble scoring against a good halfcourt defense, especially when Melvin can't get second-chance buckets either. The key for X is to take care of the ball while also being patient and moving it quickly on offense. With the way DePaul will take chances on defense, the Musketeers should be able to find easy looks with good passing. Another big key for X will be improved defensive play in transition, especially when it comes to locating jump-shooters. That's something that was exposed big-time the last two games against Creighton and Georgetown. If the Musketeers' allow the Blue Demons to get going on offense and gain confidence, they'll have a difficult time taking down a team with a player as talented as Cleveland Melvin that's feeding off the energy of the home crowd.
Score Prediction: Xavier 78 DePaul 65