Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs Matt Carlino SR (6-2, 175)
Carlino is a lefty guard that has molded into more of a score-first ball handler than a distributor. He's the Golden Eagles' leading scorer at 12.7 points per game to go with 3.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists. So far this season, he's posted career best marks for offensive rating, effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage (39.5%). He's actually shooting better from beyond the arc than he's shooting from the field overall (39.3%). Davis would be a pretty good match-up for Carlino. He'll chase him around screens off the ball and he's not giving up too much size or strength. Davis had nine points and nine assists in the loss to Villanova on Wednesday, and played a pretty solid all-around game. His performance through five conference games has been strong despite the Musketeers' struggles. The main area where they need him to improve on is his 3-point shooting. He shot it well enough (12-33, 36.4%) in non-conference play to burn opposing defenses that left him open. Since conference play started, his shot has slumped with the rest of the team (4-18, 22.2%).
Slight Edge Marquette
Myles Davis SO (6-2, 195) vs Derrick Wilson SR (6-1, 210)
Derrick Wilson is a bowling ball of a guard that plays with toughness at both ends. He had six points on 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point range (he was 0-for-3 from 2PT) to go with five assists, three steals and three rebounds in the last game against Creighton. Despite the fact that he hit a pair of threes in that game, he's not someone who is looking to shoot it from the perimeter very often (7-for-22 on the year). He's a pass first guard that likes to use his body to finish or draw contact when he drives to score. He's averaging 6.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. Without knowing the starting lineup that will be used, I'm just going with the lineup I think will work best for Xavier in this game. Davis hasn't started a game yet this year, but he's played more minutes at the shooting guard position than anyone else for Xavier over the last five games. After a horrible outing at Butler, he bounced back against Villanova and had 12 points (2-5 3PT) in 18 minutes. Wilson being on the court provides him a good defensive match-up that could allow him to play extended minutes in this game.
Slight Edge Xavier
Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs Duane Wilson FR (6-2, 185)
Wilson is an athletic scoring guard with a tight handle that has all the tools to be a well-rounded complete player. He currently ranks second behind Bluiett in scoring among Big East freshmen at 11.3 points per game. He's coming off a 17-point performance against Creighton where he nailed 3-of-6 3-point attempts and grabbed four rebounds. He's only shooting 30.4 percent from 3-point range on the year but he's not afraid to let it fly. He's at his best when he's attacking the basket aggressively and drawing fouls, though. He's also a willing passer that can make plays for his teammates on drive and dish situations. He's already posted a 30-point game this year against Tennessee at the Orlando Classic back in November. Chris Mack clearly felt the need to send a message to Abell in the game against Villanova. But Xavier can't afford a home loss to Marquette and with Abell's competitive nature, it's likely he responded to Mack's challenge and will be back in the mix heavily for this game. His suffocating on the ball defense could be overwhelming for the freshman, Wilson. If the Musketeers can limit him, it would definitely limit an already sputtering Marquette offense.
Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Juan Anderson SR (6-6, 215)
Anderson is a versatile forward that can do everything. He's averaging 10.9 points per game to go with a team-leading 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He came off the bench for the first time this season in Marquette's win over Creighton but the usual starter still played 34 minutes. He finished with four points, nine rebounds, two assists and five turnovers. He's a face-up guy that is going to play out on the perimeter some and even though he hasn't attempted a lot of threes, the Musketeers will need to contest his looks as he's hitting at a 45.5% clip (10-22). Bluiett started at the four in the last game and has split his minutes almost equally between the two forward spots over the last five games. Marquette's small rotation makes this a game where Bluiett playing at the four may be a necessity at times. While he still hasn't found his stroke in conference play yet (5-22 3PT, 22.7%), he has still played well, making an impact by scoring points, getting rebounds and making good passes. He finished with seven points, five boards and three assists against Villanova on Wednesday.
Slight Edge Xavier
Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs Luke Fischer SO (6-11, 245)
Fischer is a tough and fairly mobile big man that competes hard in the paint on both ends of the court. He just joined the team seven games ago due to sitting out a full year per NCAA rules following a midseason transfer from Indiana, but he's already made a big impact, averaging 11.8 points, 5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Most importantly, he gave the Golden Eagles some respectable size in the lane and a rim protector to go with their otherwise already solid defense. Fischer can score out of the high post and mid-range areas, but for the most part he does his damage around the rim. He hasn't attempted a three this year. He's coming off his least productive performance so far during his rather short career in a Marquette jersey after scoring only two points and grabbing two rebounds against Creighton. Stainbrook has returned to being a punishing bruiser in the lane that scores efficiently on the block against opponents. He had 21 points at Butler and 17 at Villanova with five rebounds in each game as well. Fischer could be a tough match-up for him with enough size to bang on the block but more athleticism and length.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Marquette Bench
Junior forward Steve Taylor Jr (6-7, 240) is the sixth man for Marquette, averaging 5.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game. Sophomore JaJuan Johnson (6-5, 200) brings scoring off the bench at 8.4 points per game in 21.6 minutes of action. Freshman Sandy Cohen (6-6, 180) is the only other scholarship player on the Golden Eagles' roster. He's a 3-point specialist that is shooting 48.1% from beyond the arc on the year and averaging 4.3 points in 11.8 minutes per game. Against Villanova, Jalen Reynolds scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench and Myles Davis added 12 points. With Davis starting in this theoretical lineup, the Musketeers would need Reynolds, James Farr and J.P. Macura to provide a scoring spark. Don’t be surprised to see Larry Austin still worked into the mix a lot even if he’s not starting. Who knows what the lineups and rotations will be for this game, but keeping Reynolds’ momentum going will be a big key.
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski has switched it up on the defensive end this year, but one thing that has remained consistent is his team's ability to force turnovers. The Golden Eagles are forcing 15 turnovers per game and scoring 16.1 points off of those turnovers. They currently rank 29th in the country in defensive turnover percentage, and they do all of this while fouling at a low rate. The addition of Fischer added some respectable size in the lane and rim protecting abilities which gave the guards a little more confidence to take chances in passing lanes and when pressuring the ball. Xavier will have to do a good job of taking care of the ball, which hasn't really been an issue for this team, especially at home. Xavier is shooting 39.7% from 3-point range and 52.6% from the field at home as opposed to 32.5% from three and 45% from the field on the road. If the Musketeers can continue that trend against a good defensive team in Marquette, it will give them a larger margin for error against an offensively challenged team. The Golden Eagles are shooting just 29.4% from beyond the arc on the road and averaging only 0.89 points per possession.