Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs Kris Dunn SO (6-3, 205)
Dunn has shown off his special athletic ability and has become a dominant scorer in Big East play. Since scoring six points in the Big East opener against Creighton, he's finished with double figures in every conference game. He scored 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists in the first game against Xavier. That was the second game in a stretch of four straight where Dunn scored 20 or more points. His 12-point effort on 3-of-5 shooting Wednesday in the Friars' win at Georgetown was the fewest points he's scored since January 3, but he also contributed nine assists and six steals. Davis had an interesting outing against Creighton. It certainly wasn't one of his best. He didn't seem to have his feel in terms of shot selection and creating off of the bounce, and it wasn't his best defensive night. However, he finished with 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field, including 1-of-3 from three, to go with nine assists and no turnovers.
Moderate Edge Providence
Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs LaDontae Henton SR (6-6, 215)
Henton needs no introduction with Xavier fans. he's the leading scorer in the Big East at 20.2 points per game and also the Friars' second-leading scorer at 5.6. He can score points from anywhere on the court, but the best strategy is to force him to shoot threes where he's streaky. Including the last game against Xavier where he went 1-for-8 from beyond the arc, he was 1-for-16 over a three-game stretch heading into Wednesday night's tilt with Georgetown, but broke out of that slump with a 3-for-6 performance from distance. Xavier has no good match-up for him. Abell is probably best when they go man-to-man, but zone seemed to be a better look for the Musketeers in the first meeting against Friars, mainly because they didn't have to match-up with Henton one-on-one. Abell nearly shot Xavier to victory in the Creighton game by nailing 4-of-5 attempts from 3-point range. While everyone else on Xavier's team has slumped from the perimeter in Big East play, he's shooting 45.7 percent from beyond the arc. He did lead Xavier with 40 minutes in that overtime loss on Wednesday, so his fatigue may be something to keep an eye on in this one.
Significant Edge Providence
Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Junior Lamomba SO (6-5, 200)
Lamomba is an athletic wing that has started the last four games since breaking into the starting lineup against Xavier a few weeks ago when these teams met up. Since that game where he scored a season-high six points and went 4-of-5 from the free throw line, he's only attempted five shots total in three games and scored a combined seven points to go with seven rebounds. He can defend and make the occasional play in transition, but he's not a scorer. Bluiett was back in the starting lineup for Wednesday night's game after playing pretty well for a three-game stretch off the bench. He responded with an 0-for-6 performance from the field with two points and two rebounds. He was 0-for-3 with five points and a rebound in the Musketeers' loss at Providence. It's not a secret - Xavier needs to get him going again.
Moderate Edge Xavier
James Farr JR (6-10, 244) vs Ben Bentil FR (6-8, 230)
Bentil is a strong and athletic post player that has held his own pretty well in his first Big East season. He's been very up and down with his production, but has shown flashes of brilliance, including Wednesday's 16-point, 11-rebound double-double at Georgetown. He had four points and four boards last Saturday at St. John's. Xavier wasn't a good matchup for him the first time around, especially when Jalen Reynolds was on the floor, as he ended up with no points (0-2 FG) and four rebounds. Keeping him off of the free-throw line is a huge key to limiting his scoring. He was 8-of-10 from the line against DePaul and 8-of-9 from the line against Georgetown in two of his last three games. Farr played 18 minutes in the last game against Providence and finished with five points and nine rebounds, but has only averaged 12 minutes per game since. He had four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes Wednesday against Creighton, and had some rough moments on the defensive end.
Slight Edge Xavier
Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs Carson Desrosiers SR (7-0, 250)
Desrosiers provides size for the Friars while rebounding and shot blocking. He was just 1-for-8 from the field and had three points in 36 minutes in the first game against Xavier, but he did grab seven rebounds and blocked four shots. Stainbrook was super aggressive in the game at Providence. He attempted a season-high 19 shots, finishing 8-for-19 from the floor with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. He said he had a tail-bone stinger in the game Wednesday night against Creighton, which may have contributed to his struggles. If Xavier uses more zone in this game, it will help Stainbrook on the defensive end. Coach Mack's frontcourt rotations and playing time will be interesting to watch.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Providence Bench
Junior forward Tyler Harris (6-9, 223) is averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game off the bench. He always seems to be a big part of Providence's game plan against Xavier and its weak perimeter defense. He had 12 points (3-7 FG, 1-4 3PT) and three rebounds in 37 minutes in the first game against X.Freshman Jalen Lindsey (6-7, 195) came off the bench and had very little impact in 16 minutes last time against X, finishing scoreless with two rebounds. Kyron Cartwright (5-11, 185) played 15 minutes in the last meeting and had four points on 2-of-3 shooting. The Friars also use freshman center Paschal Chukwu (7-2, 226) to eat up minutes in the post, especially when they play zone. He played eight minutes, grabbed a rebound and blocked a shot in the last game against X. Myles Davis had an average game after coming off the bench against Creighton, finishing with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. He had 16 points last time against Providence. Jalen Reynolds has had 17 points and eight rebounds in each of the last two games for Xavier. Providence is a good matchup for him. He had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds last time against the Friars.
Slight Edge Xavier
The last game between these teams was a defensive battle. Neither team could make a shot from the outside, and both played pretty poor offensively. The Musketeers got themselves behind by 12 at halftime after only scoring 20 points in the first 20 minutes of action. They responded by scoring 40 in the second half, and switched to playing a zone on the defensive end that held the Friars to just 28 points to force overtime. It would seem Xavier has to go back to the zone. Chris Mack mixed it up between a 2-3 and a packed in 1-3-1 in the second half of that game, and dared Providence to make a shot from the outside. It eliminates having to matchup with Dunn and Henton, and keeps Stainbrook out of ball screens. If the Friars happen to make shots this time around (they're last in the Big East, shooting 30.6% from three), then the Musketeers will be in big trouble. This team hit rock bottom on Wednesday night. It will be interesting to see how the guys bounce back from that. Their season depends on it. I wouldn't be surprised to see another low-scoring scrappy affair like the game a few weeks ago at Providence.