Myles Davis SO (6-2, 195) vs Alex Barlow SR (5-11, 187)
Barlow is a solid ballhandler, a tough defender and a solid shooter. He killed the Musketeers from the perimeter in the Bulldogs' home win in early January, finishing 3-for-4 from beyond the arc with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes of action. For the season, he's averaging 9.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals in 33.2 minutes of action. He's coming off a 5-point (2-4 FG), 7-rebound performance on Monday in Butler's win at Creighton, and he's 11-for-18 from distance over the last five games. Davis turned in a solid shootout performance Wednesday night, nailing 3-of-5 threes to finish with 12 points and four rebounds, including a huge defensive board to seal the win with two seconds left after Farad Cobb's 3-point look missed. However, the first game against Butler was his worst of the season. He played just 13 minutes and went 0-for-2 from the field with a bad turnover.
Slight Edge Xavier
Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs Kellen Dunham JR (6-6, 185)
Dunham is an elite shooter that has been slightly less aggressive with Roosevelt Jones being back in the mix this year. Xavier didn't have much trouble with him in its previous meeting with the Bulldogs. He finished with 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field, including 2-of-7 from three. He also went a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in a game where the Musketeers fouled entirely too often, something they'll have to clean up if they want to get the home win today. Dunham is averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game while shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range. Davis is coming off of his most important performance of his Xavier career after scoring 16 points on a perfect 5-for-5 night from beyond the arc in the Crosstown Shootout. He was 5-for-15 from the floor, including 1-for-5 from 3-point range, to go with seven assists and four turnovers in the first game against Butler. It will be interesting to see if his big night against Cincinnati can spark a special run to finish his senior year as we've seen other Xavier seniors do in the past.
Moderate Edge Butler
Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs Roosevelt Jones JR (6-4, 227)
Jones is a thick, big-bodied wing that essentially plays point guard for the Bulldogs. He's not a shooter, but he's skilled with his handle and passing. He's great at using his body to get into the lane and create for teammates, plus he's equipped with a great mid-range game. He played 39 minutes in the first game against Xavier and finished 5-of-11 from the field with 16 points, three rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two turnovers. For the season, he's averaging 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 35.1 minutes per game. Abell was one of the few Xavier players who had a good offensive night in the game at Butler as he finished with 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Wednesday night in the Shootout he had five points and three rebounds. He hasn't been much of an offensive threat other than the occasional three or transition layup over the last four games since he scored 16 against Creighton a few weeks ago.
Moderate Edge Butler
Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Tyler Wideman FR (6-8, 245)
Wideman is a physical rebounder and defender, who had his best game of the year in the first meeting against Xavier when he was 4-of-4 from the field with eight points, nine rebounds and a block in 16 minutes of action. He got his first start Monday night against Creighton due to Andrew Chrabascz being out of the lineup with a broken hand, but he only scored two points (1-2 FG) and a turnover in 12 minutes of action. Creighton isn't a great match-up for the more traditional post player, but obviously Xavier is, especially when the Musketeers were playing two post players together more often with Farr starting alongside Stainbrook and Reynolds rotating in off the bench. It will be interesting to see who wins the initial battle between Bluiett and Wideman in the first four minute war. If Bluiett can stretch the floor and create problems on offense while holding his own inside and on the glass on defense against Wideman, then Butler will be forced to go really small and severely hurt their ability to rebound. Bluiett didn't have a good shootout, disappearing for most of the game and only taking two shots in 12 minutes of action, but he stepped up and nailed two free throws in the final seconds to win the game. He was shooting the ball well heading into that game and it'd be big if he could get his stroke back in this one for the Musketeers.
Slight Edge Xavier
Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs Kameron Woods SR (6-9, 200)
Woods is a long and athletic rebounder and dunker that does most of his damage on the offensive glass. He had his way in the first game against Xavier, finishing with 13 points and 11 boards. The Musketeers let him get three second chance buckets off of four offensive rebounds in 25 minutes. They'll have to do a better job of keeping him off of the glass, which is easier said than done because of his activity level and mobility prior to and when crashing the glass. It's a tough matchup for Stainbrook, which is why Reynolds will have to be tough and control the glass when he's in the game. Stainbrook finished with seven points, six boards, four assists and six turnovers in the Shootout. He had a few good moments, but also really struggled with UC's length and athleticism on the defensive end. In the first game against Butler, he was a force, finishing with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with five rebounds. With the Bulldogs being even smaller this time around, the Musketeers have to make sure they pound it into their big man to exploit that lack of size.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Butler Bench
The sixth man and really only significant contributor off the bench for the Bulldogs is now senior forward Austin Etherington (6-6, 215). He didn't play much in the first game against Xavier, scoring two points with a rebound an assist in eight minutes of action. However, he played 22 minutes against Creighton and went 0-for-3 from the field and grabbed three boards in his expanded role with Chrabascz out. Freshman forward Kelan Martin (6-6, 215) only played nine minutes at Creighton even with Chrabascz out of the mix, but it would seem that the face-up forward might see more of an opportunity against Xavier. He's shooting just 22.4 percent from distance on the year and really hasn't attempted that many threes, but he's still a more skilled face-up player that does most of his work off of jump shots that could possibly space the floor and put a little extra pressure on the Musketeers' man-to-man defense. Freshman Jackson Davis (6-8, 210) played six minutes, made his only field goal attempt, and had a rebound in Monday's win at Creighton. Jalen Reynolds was effective in the first game of Butler, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting and grabbing five rebounds, but he also struggled to stay on the floor and was playing less for the Musketeers in general at that point in the season. He didn't have his best game against Cincinnati, but kept his head for the most part and stayed on the floor for 24 minutes, finishing with seven points and five boards. Xavier needs a big game out of him against the Bulldogs' depleted frontcourt. J.P. Macura has seen his role increase over the last four games. He's averaged 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 19 minutes per game during that stretch. He had three points on 1-of-2 shooting from 3-point range in 14 minutes Wednesday night in the Shootout.
Significant Edge Xavier
Butler was dealt a major blow with the loss of Chrabascz last week, and while his injury may tip the matchup scales in favor of Xavier, it won't be easy for the Musketeers to pull off the win. The Bulldogs are experienced and tough. They found a way to pull off a last second win at Creighton on Monday without Chrabascz, and took Villanova to the wire last Saturday when they still had him. Assuming the two teams start the lineups listed above, Xavier's advantage will initially be its skill and ability to space the floor, but over the course of the game the key will be whether or not the Musketeers dominate the paint against a thin Butler frontline. Expect Xavier to keep its defense tight and potentially switch to the zone if it struggles early. Butler has two shooters in Dunham and Barlow, but as long as they are located there aren't really any other shooters the Musketeers need to worry about hurting them.