Wilson was in foul trouble in the Golden Eagles' loss to Xavier at the Cintas Center. It was clear that X just wasn't a team that he matched up well against, especially with the way Dee Davis was playing at the time on the offensive end. He's a slow power guard that uses his big body to his advantage when he drives, but he's not much of a threat to score at all (5.4 ppg with no jumper) which severely limits his effectiveness. This matchup was one of the keys to the last meeting between these teams as Davis gave the Musketeers a nice advantage, outscoring Wilson 13-2. After going through four games where he struggled and wasn't much of a help during the Musketeers' three-game losing skid, he scored nine points by hitting three 3-pointers and dished out nine assists with only one turnover in the win at Butler. Davis is likely to continue to get open looks against a Marquette team that's going to be focused on putting bodies in the lane to negate Semaj Christon's penetration.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon So (6-3, 190) vs Jake Thomas Sr (6-3, 205)
Thomas is a shooter, plain and simple. That was stated implicitly in this very article last time these teams played, just as it was stated in the Musketeers' scouting report. That didn't stop Thomas from going off for 17 points with five threes to help keep Marquette in the game at Cintas. This was at the peak of the Musketeers' defensive issues, and chasing Thomas off of pin-downs and other screen situations that they run to get him free proved to be a major issue at the time. Since that game, Thomas has only scored in double-figures twice, Georgetown and St. John's. He's been held scoreless or with only one field goal in four Big East games. Xavier has to find a way to turn him into that player, instead of the one that torched them last time and made it too interesting at the Cintas. While the Musketeers have the ability to stop Thomas if they play more disciplined and with a little better effort, it's unclear if Marquette has the ability to slow down Christon. He went off for 28 points in an insanely efficient 8-of-10 performance from the field that included 3-for-3 from beyond the arc when the Golden Eagles dared him to shoot it. While Marquette does have length and athleticism, they don't have it in a guard form that's quick enough to stop Christon. They're going to have to use a team effort to slow him down this time around, which will probably give the rest of the supporting cast some great opportunities if they're able to step up and take advantage of them.
Significant Edge Xavier
Justin Martin Jr (6-6, 205) vs Jamil Wilson Sr (6-7, 230)
Wilson is a super versatile wing/forward with do-it-all skills, and he's coming off back-to-back strong performances in his last two games against Butler and Seton Hall, finishing with 17 and 25 points respectively. He also hauled in a combined 16 rebounds in those games. That will make things interesting for this match-up with Xavier since he scored just five points, grabbed one board and was a non-factor in the last meeting between the tams. At Butler, Martin came out playing with a lot of emotion and energy and it backfired on him as he spent most of the first half on the bench with two fouls. In the second half, he made up for lost time by scoring nine points in the second half, including his impressive dunk that he was T'd up for after hanging on the rim. Martin is always important against the physical teams in the Big East, because he's such a factor on the boards. Last game against Marquette, he went off for 15 points and eight rebounds. If Xavier can get another performance like that in a game that's likely to be lower scoring than the first time around, it'd be a big step towards a win.
Slight Edge Marquette
Isaiah Philmore Sr (6-8, 237) vs Davante Gardner Sr (6-8, 290)
Juan Anderson has been starting, but the last time around against Xavier Buzz Williams gave Gardner one of his seven starts of the year, presumably to match-up with the Musketeers' bigger frontcourt personnel. Currently, Gardner is working on a seven-game streak of scoring in double-figures, with a pair of double-doubles during that stretch. He was dominant against Villanova with 29 points and 13 boards, and he was really good last time around against X too, finishing with 19 points and four rebounds. He's a load to deal with inside, because he'll use his massive body to seal you deep, but he also has great touch and can step out and shoot it. Philmore is coming off back-to-back solid performances against Providence and Seton Hall where he combined for 18 points and 13 boards, three assists and only one turnover between the two games. Mack seems to have found the sweet spot for Philmore of playing him right about 25 minutes, and he's been mostly effective in his role, especially with Jalen Reyolds coming on and helping the frontcourt more recently. Last time these two teams met up it was a war in the paint and on the glass, and Philmore held his own offensively scoring nine points but his lack of athleticism cost him on the boards as he only came away with two.
Moderate Edge Marquette
Matt Stainbrook Jr (6-10, 263) vs Chris Otule Sr (6-11, 275)
Otule's length and athleticism makes him a presence on the defensive end and gives him value, even if he doesn't help the team in many other ways. Last time against Xavier, he played 15 minutes and had four points, two rebounds and two blocks. As long as Xavier doesn't give him any putbacks on the offensive glass, which they didn't last time, then he should be a nonfactor for the most part on offense. Stainbrook sat all but five minutes of the first half last time around due to foul trouble, and while he battled on the glass and on defensive end in the second half, he never got into the flow of the game. He finished with six points, eight rebounds and three assists. While the Musketeers got a lift off the bench from Farr and Reynolds in that game, they'd like to see Stainbrook stay on the court and be productive. This may just be a tough match-up for the big man though, considering Marquette's combination of length and strength inside.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Marquette Bench
Last game, the Musketeers held a 21-12 advantage on the boards in the first half against a really good rebounding team with Stainbrook on the bench for 15 of the 20 minutes because Jalen Reynolds and James Farr stepped up and gave the Musketeers great minutes. Expect those two, particularly Reyolds, to be a big factor again today. Marquette always gets a lot of production out of its bench. Typically Gardner comes off the bench as the Golden Eagles leading scorer, but even with him in the starting lineup, they still bring their third-leading scorer off the pine in Todd Mayo (9.6 ppg). Mayo's play has been very up and down recently, but last time against the Muskies he finished with 10 points and three assists. After Mayo, freshman Deonte Burton, who broke out against the Musketeers for 13 points at Cintas, might be the most dangerous off the bench. Steve Taylor didn't get in the last game against Seton Hall and he's been used sparingly recently by Buzz Williams. Juan Anderson is another forward that has seen erratic playing time. He played just two minutes against Butler, but turned around and played 21 against Seton Hall, scoring six points in he Golden Eagles last game. Marquette can go 11 deep, but it seems like Buzz is trying to trim that rotation for the stretch run.
Slight Edge Marquette
The last time these teams played the Musketeers were at the peak of their offensive hot wave, while their defense was really starting to show its flaws. It wouldn't be surprising to see another back-and-forth game with a similar spread as X's 86-79 win at Cintas, but it's highly unlikely that the game is nearly as fun to watch or as high-scoring. Expect a physical, rugged Big East game, much like the one the Musketeers won over Providence last week. Marquette rebounds the ball well against most Big East teams, but X dominated them on the glass the first time around. That battle on the boards will be a big factor again is this one, as will the foul situation. When Xavier was aggressive last time, Marquette was forced to foul, sending the Musketeers to the line for 41 free-throw attempts compared to just 13 that the Golden Eagles attempted. They're expecting a friendlier whistle this time around at their own arena, I'm sure.
Score Prediction: Xavier 66 Marquette 64