Edmond Sumner FR (6-6, 183) vs Mo Watson JR (5-10, 170)
Sumner looked to have an advantage against Creighton in the first meeting between these teams, but he struggled to finish. He ended up with 10 points (2-12 FG, 0-3 3PT), seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 28 minutes of action. For the season, he's averaging 11.3 points, 3.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 25.7 minutes per game, while shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3-point range. If he gets a step on Watson, look for him to use his size to try to shoot over him in the lane. Watson was the biggest problem for the Musketeers' defense last game. His quickness allowed him to consistently beat defenders off the bounce, and he was a monster in transition. He finished with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in the first game against Xavier. He's averaging 14.7 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field, including 31.7 percent on 51 attempts from 3-point range. The key for X is to make him play in the halfcourt. Then they need to let him go and get his points to a certain extent, corralling him as best they can with one or two defenders, as opposed to collapsing the whole defense on him.
Moderate Edge Creighton
Myles Davis JR (6-2, 188) vs James Milliken SR (6-2, 180)
Davis came off a triple-double against Providence and then laid an egg at Creighton earlier in the year, going 0-for-7 from the field, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range. Last weekend, he was 4-of-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc with 15 points, five assists, and two rebounds in the loss at Seton Hall. He's averaging 10.9 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.6 rebounds in 29.1 minutes per game, while shooting 39.8 percent from the field, and 38.2 percent from 3-point range. Milliken is having somewhat of a disappointing season, but he had a big game Wednesday night at Providence, finishing with 26 points. He had nine points (3-9 FG, 2-8 3PT), three boards, two assists and a steal in 37 minutes in the first game against Xavier. For the season, he's averaging 9.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 24.7 minutes per game, while shooting 40.3 percent from the field, including 35.7 percent on 112 attempts from 3-point range. He's inconsistent, but he's always a threat to have a big night because of his ability to create his own looks.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Remy Abell SR (6-4, 195) vs Isaiah Zierden JR (6-3, 185)
Abell's eight shot attempts against Seton Hall tied his season-high. He finished 3-of-8 with eight points, two rebounds, and a steal in the loss. He only played 11 minutes in the first game at Creighton, finishing 0-for-2 from the floor. For the season, he's averaging 6.0 points, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game. It will be interesting to see if Senior Day impacts his confidence/performance at all. Zierden is the Bluejays' top shooter. He's connected on 70-of-181 (38.7%) attempts from 3-point range. In the last game against Xavier, he had nine points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 39 minutes of action. He's averaging 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 32.2 minutes per game, while shooting 40.4 percent from the field. The Musketeers will have to make certain they know where he is when they're in the 1-3-1 zone. He's been dealing with a shoulder injury that's caused him to miss practices, but he still played 34 minutes Wednesday night.
Slight Edge Creighton
Trevon Bluiett SO (6-6, 207) vs Toby Hegner SO (6-10, 225)
Bluiett had one of his worst games of the year at Creighton. He was just 2-of-10 from the floor, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range, with four points, five boards, two assists and two turnovers in 33 minutes. He also struggled on the defensive end at times. He's averaging 15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a steal in 30.4 minutes per game, while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from deep. Watson is going to try to get Bluiett switched onto him and then isolate like he did last time these teams played. Bluiett has to do a better job of handling that on defense. Hegner only played 16 minutes in the first game against Xavier, partially due to foul trouble. He was 0-for-2 from the field with no points, six boards, a turnover, and four fouls. He's averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game. He's strictly a face-up forward with 110 of his 146 shot attempts coming from beyond the arc where he's shooting 34.5 percent. He's been beat up all season, and is currently dealing with a hip pointer.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Jalen Reynolds JR (6-10, 237) vs Geoffrey Groselle SR (7-0, 240)
Reynolds got a lot of opportunities in the post last time against Creighton. He was 5-of-15 from the field with 17 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in 25 minutes. The Bluejays choose to leave their big men on an island and let them defend one-on-one in the post, so don't be surprised to see Xavier try to exploit that again. Reynolds needs to be more patient with his moves this time around. Groselle really didn't look to be an offensive threat at all last time against Xavier. He had three points (3-6 FT) and seven rebounds in 22 minutes in that game. For the season, he ranks second on the team in scoring with an average of 10.7 points per game to go with 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 20.6 minutes. Outside of the occasional time where a guard gets switched onto him, Groselle shouldn't be much of an offensive weapon against the Musketeers as long as they keep him off the glass.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Creighton Bench
James Farr was one of the few guys who started to get it going on the offensive end in that game at Creighton. He had 14 points (7-13 FG) and six boards in 23 minutes. For the season, he's averaging 10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and a block in 20.8 minutes per game. JP Macura saw 29 minutes off the bench in the game at Creighton, finishing with seven points (3-7 FG, 1-5 3PT) and three rebounds. He's averaging 9.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and a steal in 22.6 minutes per game. Larry Austin played an increased role at Creighton when Watson was torching the Musketeers. He had two points, three rebounds, two steals, and an assist in 14 minutes. Expect to see him some increased time in this one again for defensive purposes. Kaiser Gates played nine minutes in the game at Creighton. He could see some more playing time today because of his defense too. He's averaging 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game during conference play. For Creighton, junior Cole Huff (6-8, 210) played a big role off the bench, scoring 11 points (3-7 FG, 1-4 3PT) and grabbing five boards in 25 minutes. He's averaging 10.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 21 minutes per game, while shooting 41.7 percent from the field, including 34.6 percent on 136 attempts from 3-point range. He's been playing on a bad knee for a few weeks, and has practiced very little during that time. Junior Zach Hanson (6-9, 240) added six points (2-2 FG, 2-2 FT) and three rebounds in 13 minutes last time against X. For the season, he's averaging 7.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game. Freshman wing Ronnie Harrell (6-7, 180) saw eight minutes off the bench in that first game against Xavier, finishing with three rebounds and three turnovers. He was 0-for-3 from the field. He's averaging 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per game.
Slight Edge Xavier
Creighton is really banged up and this game doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of its positioning for the postseason. If Xavier gets on top early, there's a good chance that the Bluejays pack it in, start resting guys, and turn their attention toward the Big East tournament. That means the Musketeers need to do a better job of getting good looks in the opening minutes and not allowing Creighton to get out in transition to build confidence and rhythm on offense. Xavier played 66.2 percent (45 poss.) man-to-man defense in the first game, but had more success in the 1-3-1 once Creighton slowed down a little bit offensively. Good shot selection and taking care of the basketball on the offensive end will be crucial for keeping the Bluejays out of transition and helping out Xavier's defense. The Musketeers outscored Creighton 38-24 in the paint in that first game, and 22-12 in second chance points. Creighton is a solid team, and Watson presents a matchup problem for Xavier... But given the fact that the Musketeers lost at Creighton and they're coming off a loss at Seton Hall, I expect this to be a strong performance and a double-digit victory on Senior Day.
Predicted Score: Xavier 87 Creighton 75