Edmond Sumner FR (6-6, 170) vs Scoochie Smith JR (6-2, 180)
Sumner scored 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting (6-9 FT) in Xavier's win over USC in the second round of the Advocare Invitational. He only had one point in the first game, but he dished out six assists. He's third on the team in scoring at 11.0 points per game, and leads the team in assists at 2.8 per game. Smith is coming off a career-high 19 points in Dayton's win over Monmouth Friday night. He's averaging 15.0 points per game on 50 percent shooting in the Flyers' two wins in Orlando. For the season, he's the Flyers' second-leading scorer at 12.2 points per game to go with 4.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds. He can shoot it from deep (7-18 3PT), and their offense basically consists of him operating off of a ton of high ball screens. He's good at getting into the lane to get the defense to collapse and then kicking back out to the perimeter to open teammates. Sumner is the better player long-term and may very well get the best of Smith head-to-head, but Smith's experience gives him the nod heading into this matchup.
Slight Edge Dayton
Myles Davis JR (6-2, 188) vs Kyle Davis JR (6-0, 175)
Davis was 2-for-5 from 3-point range and finished with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists in the Musketeers' win over USC. He only had six points in the opening round game against Alabama. For the season, he's averaging 9.8 points,3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Dayton's Davis is on the smaller side, but he's a solid all-around guard. He's averaging 8.4 points, 2.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game. He'll shoot the three, but he's not a good shooter. He's 2-for-10 on the season, and a 21 percent career shooter. He's at his best putting pressure on the defense by making plays off the dribble. He does a good job of getting to the free throw line where he's 14-of-17 on the season, and he has great vision as a passer. The Musketeers will have to recognize that he's left-handed; he catches a lot of defenders off guard by setting up on the left wing and driving baseline. He's also the Flyers' best defender, so it will be interesting to see who he guards.
Slight Edge Xavier
Remy Abell SR (6-4, 195) vs Charles Cooke JR (6-5, 192)
After Abell had back-to-back double-digit scoring performances against Michigan and Northern Kentucky, he's sputtered on the offensive end in Orlando. He's 1-for-10 from the field, including 0-for-2 from three in the Musketeers' two tournament wins. He's done a great job on defense, though. Cooke is a crafty scorer that gets most of his points on spot up jumpers, but he's capable of doing a lot more. He's averaging a team-high 16.6 points to go with 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists, and shooting 45.5 percent (10-22) from 3-point range. The James Madison transfer isn't a great athlete, but he has long arms and is athletic enough to get out in transition and finish. He also has a great jab step to the right and drive left move he uses to beat defenders off the bounce. At times, Dayton will even run actions to get him the ball in the post. This should be a really fun battle to watch when Dayton has the ball, assuming Abell guards him.
Moderate Edge Dayton
Trevon Bluiett SO (6-6, 207) vs Kendall Pollard JR (6-6, 235)
Bluiett is averaging a team-high 14.8 points per game. He also ranks eighth in the Big East conference in rebounding with an average of 7.8 rebounds per game. Ever since a quiet opener against Miami, he's pretty much been the Musketeers' best player every game. Pollard is an athletic and physical forward that makes up for his lack of height with his relentless motor and long arms. He's averaging 9.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He finds points through his effort by staying active on the offensive glass and running the floor in transition. Dayton also runs the same cross screen play that Xavier runs for Jalen Reynolds all the time for Pollard. It will be interesting to see if they try and run it against X. Pollard is also a plus defender, so this should be a fun matchup to watch when Xavier has the ball.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Jalen Reynolds JR (6-10, 232) vs Steve McElvene FR (6-11, 268)
Reynolds only played 16 minutes and had eight points on 4-of-9 shooting to go with seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks against USC. He'll have a chance to use his quickness and athleticism in this match-up when working one-on-one, but Dayton does a good job of keeping its defense tight so expect the extra defender to come fast and furious when he catches in the post. McElvene is a big body and a strong rebounder. He's averaging 6.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game. He has a go-to right-handed hook shot when he's working on the block, and he's also a consistent threat on the offensive glass. He spends a lot of times setting screens on offense, but the Dayton guards rarely hit him on the roll, mainly because he's not good at catching the ball on the move. On defense, McElvene can clog the lane and challenge shots at the rim. He's undisciplined still and sometimes slow to react, but overall the freshman has done a nice job on both ends.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Dayton Bench
At this point, it's more than just a few games… JP Macura looks like one of the most talented offensive players in the Chris Mack era at Xavier. He's the second-leading scorer on the team at 12.2 points to go with 3.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 22 minutes per game. Look for him to be licking his chops against a Dayton team that gives up a lot of 3-pointers. James Farr has also provided Xavier with a big boost off the bench, as he's helped make them an elite defensive rebounding team. He's averaging 9.0 points and 9.6 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game. Look for Xavier to use a smaller rotation in this game. For Dayton, freshman Xeyrius Williams (6-6, 194) is a long and athletic forward that likes to slash to the rim and finish off passes from his teammates or crash the offensive glass. He's averaging 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game. Sophomore Darrell Davis (6-4, 168) is a long guard that scores most of his points off of spot up jumpers, but he'll also attack off a ball screen and shoot a floater. He's averaging 6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 19.0 minutes per game. Freshman forward Ryan Mikesell (6-7, 195) is a spot-up shooter off the bench. He's shooting 53.3 percent (8-15) from deep, while averaging 6.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game. He'll also make the occasional backdoor cut when defenders are overplaying him. Freshman Sam Miller (6-9, 244) is a face-up forward that is definitely going to pick-and-pop against X. He's yet to find his rhythm at the Division I level though, as he's averaging 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game while only shooting 30 percent from the field.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Dayton runs a Passing Game offense, which basically consists of little structure and relies on the players to read and react off of ball screens and cuts. Xavier will have to stay disciplined when handling ball screens, and do a great job of contesting jumpers. The Flyers play hard within their Pack Line defense, and rank 23rd in the country in defensive efficiency. But, Xavier is actually better on that end, coming in at 20th in the nation. The Musketeers are also a much more efficient team on offense, ranking 28th in the country in offensive efficiency compared to Dayton at 72. Just like with Xavier's Pack Line, opponents have found success shooting the three against Dayton. The Flyers rank 258 in the country in defensive 3-point percentage, allowing opponents to connect at a 37.3 percent clip. It will be interesting to see what role fouls play in this game as both teams have been doing a good job of attacking off the dribble and drawing whistles. Xavier is more talented and deeper. If the Musketeers give a good effort and hit some shots, they shouldn't have any problem against Dayton. However, these are two top 45 teams and former rivals going at it, so anything is possible.
Score prediction: Xavier 72 Dayton 67