The Matchups: Xavier vs Georgia State

Before every game, MusketeerReport breaks down the position-by-position matchups for X's opponent. This edition focuses on Saturday evening’s NCAA tournament second round matchup between the Musketeers and the Georgia State Panthers.

Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs Kevin Ware JR (6-2, 170)

Ware is a veteran in college basketball now that has already been to the NCAA tournament with Louisville when he broke his leg two years ago. He’s always been known as a tremendous athlete, and still is, even if he lost a step since his injury. He was named MVP of the Sun Belt tournament after scoring 18 points in Georgia State’s 38-36 win over Georgia Southern in the tournament finale. He struggled in the Panthers' first round game against Baylor, and finished 2-for-8 from the field (0-2 3PT) with four points, three assists and two steals. He’s averaging 7.6 points and 2.4 assists in 28.4 minutes per game. Davis was great in Xavier’s first round win over Ole Miss. He made the Rebels pay for leaving him all alone from the perimeter and nailed 4-of-9 from 3-point range to finish with 17 points (5-10 FG), three assists, one steal and one turnover. The senior has a chance to write a really special final chapter to his career at Xavier with the way he’s started this tournament.

Slight Edge Xavier

Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs R.J. Hunter JR (6-6, 190)

Hunter is the best player on Georgia State’s team. He’s a crafty scorer with good size and a volume shooter. He only shot 29.4 percent from three on the year, and his shot attempts are nearly split down the middle between threes and twos. Despite the numbers, the Musketeers definitely don't want to let him get good looks from three. He led the Panthers with 16 points in the first round, including a game-winning three from real deep with time expiring. Abell is almost certain to draw this matchup. The Musketeers will likely treat Hunter like Butler's Kellen Dunham and just try to chase him around all screens and be as physical as possible with him on the catch. Abell came out aggressive on offense for X against Ole Miss and provided a nice lift with eight points, including a three in the early going.

Moderate Edge Georgia State

Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Ryann Green SR (6-1, 180)

Green has been thrust into a starting role after Ryan Harrow suffered a hamstring injury and missed most of the last three games. He responded in a big way in Thursday’s first round game against Baylor when he scored a career-high 11 points and helped carry the Panthers’ offense early when Hunter was struggling. He’s only a 32.8 percent 3-point shooter on the year, but he stepped up and hit 3-of-6 from deep. He showed he wasn’t scared of the moment, and finished third on the team with nine shot attempts. Bluiett guarding him might not be an ideal matchup for X, considering he’s more of a combo-guard with some quickness. However, if they stay with this bigger lineup to start then it would seem to be the most likely matchup initially, so expect him to play off of Green a bit and look for some help on the penetration. Bluiett struggled in the first round game, going 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-2 from 3-point range. The Musketeers need him to get it going on the offensive end.

Slight Edge Xavier

Jalen Reynolds SO (6-10, 222) vs Markus Crider JR (6-6, 200)

Crider is an undersized athletic forward. He is more of a face-up wing player, but he’s not skilled or a shooter. In fact, he isn’t even really a big part of the Panthers’ offense as a cutter or roller. He played solid against Baylor and scored 10 points to go with five boards. His points typically come off hustle plays or quick one- or two-dribble moves to the basket. He’s good at using his length and athleticism to wreak some havoc on defense as he showed on Thursday when he finished with three steals. Reynolds struggled off the bench for the Musketeers against Ole Miss. He had a rough time finishing around the basket and ended the game 2-for-12 from the floor with six points and five rebounds. Again, Farr will likely start at this spot if the Musketeers keep with their lineup from the last few games, but Reynolds figures to see more minutes.The Panthers really don’t have any good answers for him, so look for a bounce back performance in this round.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs ) Curtis Washington SR (6-10, 230)

Washington is a defensive-minded shot blocker and rebounder for Georgia State. He averages 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. He had seven points (3-5 FG) and five rebounds against Baylor. He did most of his damage on the offensive glass with four boards. He’s really not a part of the Panthers’ game plan on the offensive end. He’s not the type of guy that is going to hurt the Musketeers in a pick-and-roll or any other type of action. A lot of the time Georgia State will bring in the 6-7, 225-pound TJ Shipes to play the five, which will almost ensure that they’ll be selling out to double team Stainbrook whenever he catches the ball. Stainbrook played really well in the first round against Ole Miss as he finished with a game-high 20 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists. This needs to be another game where the Musketeers run their offense through him and force Georgia State to make a decision on how they’re going to make up for his size advantage. He’ll have to be careful when double-teams come because the Panthers are good at getting their hands on the basketball and staying active in their pursuit for steals and deflections.

Significant Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs Ole Miss Bench

Senior guard Ryan Harrow is the team’s second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game to go with 3.7 assists. He’s missed most of the last three games with a hamstring injury and isn't expected to play in this one. That leaves the Panthers with seven main guys. Junior forward TJ Shipes (6-7, 225) subs into the frontcourt mostly to rest Washington at the five. He’s fairly agile, but is not a skilled, face-up big man that is going to burn the Musketeers from deep. Freshman guard Isaiah Dennis (6-0, 185) should also see some time off the bench with Harrow out. He saw 21 minutes in Thursday’s game against Baylor and finished with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting (no three attempts). Xavier received a boost from freshman wing J.P. Macura in the first round when he came off the bench to score six quick points on two threes in 10 minutes after sitting out the Big East finals against Villanova with a sprained ankle. James Farr played a strong role off the bench for the Musketeers by hauling in 13 rebounds in 23 minutes. He also hit a three. Myles Davis started off slow against Ole Miss, but then showed signs of breaking out of his shooting slump as he hit two threes to finish 2-for-5 from beyond the arc with six points.

Slight Edge Xavier

Overall

Georgia State likes to pressure the ball and force a lot of turnovers. The Panthers rank third in the country in steal percentage and 14th in the country in defensive turnover percentage. X has to take care of the ball, and maybe the most important part of that is Dee Davis can't get in foul trouble like he did in the first round against Ole Miss. The Panthers will pick up in a 1-2-2 press and then typically fall back into a matchup 2-3 zone. The Panthers' guards are active and thrive off of deflections or steals in the passing lanes. They scored 21 points off of 21 Baylor turnovers in their opening round win. If X can exploit its size advantage in the post and avoid a crazy performance from Hunter, the matchups certainly setup well for the Musketeers in this round.

Score prediction: Xavier 74 Georgia State 68


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