Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs Jarvis Summers SR (6-3, 186)
Summers has good size for a point guard. He does most of his damage off of ball screens, and he likes to settle for a lot of jump shots, which is a good thing for the defense because he only shoots 33.8 percent from the field and 24.8 percent from three. Those struggles have not made him shy about shooting though. He’s scored in double figures in each of the last three games, including posting 11 points on 5-of-21 shooting against BYU Tuesday night to go with 10 assists. On the season, he’s averaging 12 points and 4.6 assists in 28.3 minutes per game. The fact that he is a threat to score and is willing to put a shot up every time down the court helps open up passing lanes and allows him to create plays for his teammates. Davis averaged 10 points per game, and was 10-for-25 from the field and 2-for-10 from 3-point range in three games in New York City. He also dished out 18 assists, had four steals and turned the ball over seven times. He tweaked his ankle in the game against Villanova, but stayed in and played it out and has continuously said he’s fine since then. His defense is going to be hugely important to the Musketeers’ success, as cutting off Summers penetration is a huge part of slowing down the Rebels’ attack. .
Slight Edge Ole Miss
Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs Stefan Moody JR (5-10, 179)
Moody is the star of this Ole Miss team. It’s rare that you see a 5-foot-10 shooting guard, but the Rebels don’t even pretend like he is a point guard. He spends most of the game running off screens on the baseline or catching on the wing and operating off a side ball screen. He’s quick, tough and crafty when attacking the basket, plus he’s a 90.2 percent free throw shooter and a 35.7 percent 3-point shooter. He’s scored 20-plus points in 10 different games this season, including 26 on 10-of-18 shooting (5-9 3PT) against BYU. He’ll take and make a lot of tough shots – prepare to be frustrated as a fan cheering against him. For the season, he’s averaging 16.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Abell will likely take on the challenge of guarding the Rebels’ leading scorer, at least initially. He’s been tough on the ball and good at locking up isolation scorers all season. It will be interesting to see whether his size advantage over Moody makes a big difference. Offensively, Abell could play an important role for the Musketeers. Ole Miss’ transition defense is terrible, and that’s how he’s scored a lot of his points this season. He averaged 7.3 points while shooting 42.8 percent in the Big East tournament.
Moderate Edge Ole Miss
Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Martavious Newby JR (6-3, 210)
Newby is a well-built athletic guard that is on the court for his defense and toughness. He Averages 3.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game. He’s just a 27 percent 3-point shooter on limited attempts this season, but he did rise up confidently and knock a three down against BYU Tuesday night. His 10 points against the Cougars marked only the second time all season he’s scored in double figures – the other came in the season-opener when he scored 14 against Charleston Southern. Xavier’s guards will have to do a good job of making sure they keep him off of the boards. Bluiett had a really good game against Butler in the Big East tournament when he scored 11 points, was 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and hauled in six rebounds with two assists and two steals. He only had nine points and two boards in the win over Georgetown, and then two points and two boards in the loss to Villanova. He was 4-of-10 overall in the tournament from 3-point range. This Ole Miss team should be a pretty good matchup for him. He will get open looks – if he can knock them down, X should be in pretty good shape.
Slight Edge Xavier
Jalen Reynolds SO (6-10, 222) vs M.J. Rhett SR (6-9, 235)
Rhett is a strong and athletic big man that is mobile and quick laterally. He’s a fifth year grad transfer from Tennessee State, and it shows – he’s a man physically. He put on a dunk show in the second half of BYU, and that’s typically how he gets most of his points. However, he has a capable mid-range jumper that he’ll shoot when left open. He averages 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game. This should be a good matchup between Rhett and Reynolds. Reynolds found himself in a little foul trouble in New York, but while he was on the court he was mostly effective. He had some huge stretches in the second halves of both the Butler and Georgetown wins. He averaged 11 points and five rebounds per game in the Big East tournament. Obviously he won’t start, but the Musketeers are likely to stick with their bigger lineup in this game more often than not, so Reynolds is likely to see starter-like minutes.
Slight Edge Xavier
Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs ) Sebastian Saiz SO (6-9, 233)
Saiz is an impressive looking young big man from Madrid with broad shoulders and a 7-foot-6 wingspan. He runs the floor well, and gets most of his points on easy buckets at the rim or putbacks. He’s not a dominant rebounder by any means, but he’ll crash the offensive glass hard for a tip-dunk if no one puts a body on him. He’s mostly used to set screens on offense, but he rarely rolls to look for a pass. He’s more physical ability than basketball player right now, but he’s good enough to make an impact. He averages 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game. Stainbrook could give Xavier a big advantage in this game, or he could be a liability. Ole Miss’ big men are likely going to play him straight up in the post, and it would seem that none of them are quite big enough to truly contain him on the block alone. If he seals low and looks to score aggressively in the post, Xavier could have a big advantage. If he’s not able to get it going on offense, it could be a major problem for X because the Rebels’ big men are all faster and more athletic than Stainbrook. He was great in New York City. In the win over Butler, he had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, and then he turned around a night later and put up 20 points and nine boards against Georgetown. He seemed to get frustrated and checked out of the Villanova game mentally as he finished with just four points and three boards in 21 minutes. If he’s on his “A” game, the Xavier offense will be very difficult for the Rebels to stop.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Ole Miss Bench
Senior wing LaDarius “Snoop” White” (6-6, 211) comes off the bench but plays the third most minutes on the team and is also the team’s third-leading scorer at 11.1 points per game to go with 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He’s a guy to keep an eye on because he’ll come in and space along the perimeter hunting open threes where he shoots 40.3 percent on the year. Sophomore big man Dwight Coleby (6-9, 236) is a physical presence in the lane that averages 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in just 16.4 minutes per game. He’s the most productive rebounder on the team at both ends of the court. Senior forward Aaron Jones (6-9, 220) is another big body that can eat up minutes in the post. He averages 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game. Senior guard Terence Smith (6-4, 195) is a spot-up shooter off the bench that is hitting at a 36.9 percent clip from beyond the arc on the year. He averages 4.0 points in 16.1 minutes per game. Junior forward Anthony Perez (6-9, 213) is a long and lean face-up forward that averages 2.7 points and 2.0 rebonds in 10.8 minutes per game. Myles Davis’ performance in this game could be a key factor in its outcome. He’s struggled with his shot recently, hitting just 1-of-12 from three in the Big East tournament and 5-of-27 over the last six games, but he’s likely to get open looks against this Ole Miss defense. The Musketeers are going to need to make shots to win games at this stage of the season, and he’s one of the guys they’re relying on. James Farr has been playing his role perfectly in the final weeks of the season, and that carried over to the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. J.P. Macura sprained his ankle in the Georgetown game and missed the finals against Villanova. He went through practice on Wednesday and seemed to be moving fine.
Slight Edge Xavier
A lot of the Rebels’ offense revolves around Moody or Summers working to create and the other athletes in the lineup looking for a drop-off for an easy two or an offensive rebound. In many ways, their best offense is a missed layup or runner off the drive that forced the defense to collapse, because they do a great job of cleaning up those misses on the offensive glass. Xavier absolutely has to keep the ball in front on defense and get a body on someone on the glass. On the other end of the court, Ole Miss is completely undisciplined in transition defense, which is a good sign for Xavier. The Musketeers have been great all year at getting run outs or 3-point looks in transition by passing the ball up the floor, especially after the other team scores a basket. If Stainbrook and Reynolds finish in the post and the guards can knock down any open jumpers, the Musketeers should have no problem finding good looks against this Ole Miss team when they need them most.