Quentin Goodin FR (6-4, 194) vs Billy Garrett Jr. SR (6-6, 213)
Garrett is a big, playmaking combo guard with a well-rounded skill-set. He does a little bit of everything, including defending multiple positions on defense. He often initiates the offense by using a high ballscreen. He's at his best when he's in transition or he's spotting up. He also draws a ton of fouls and is a 90.8 percent free-throw shooter from the charity stripe. He's averaging 15.7 points (38.1% FG, 37.2% 3PT), 3.3 assists, and 2.7 rebounds in 29.5 minutes per game. Last year, he struggled in the game at Cintas, finishing with just five points on 2-of-7 shooting. Goodin is averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 assists per game for the season, but he's averaging 11.5 points, 6.0 assists, 3.0 steals, and 2.5 turnovers in 36.5 minutes over the last two games since he's been starting. He's had issues finishing around the rim but he's been great in terms of running the team and setting up his teammates, plus he was 4-for-7 from three in the win at Creighton on Saturday. This will be a good individual challenge for him but it also might be a favorable matchup on the offensive end as DePaul allows a lot of straight-line drives to the rim without any rim protectors in the paint.
Slight Edge DePaul
JP Macura JR (6-5, 203) vs Eli Cain SO (6-6, 204)
Cain is a scoring guard with good length and a smooth style of play. He's most efficient when he has his feet set and is stepping into a spot-up jumper, but if he catches the ball while guarded his first instinct is to put his head down and drive. He's the Blue Demons' leading scorer at 16.5 points per game (40.3% FG, 37.7% 3PT) to go with 4.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 33.3 minutes per game. Macura is averaging 14.2 points (43.5% FG, 34.2% 3PT), 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.6 steals in 32 minutes per game. He hit some big shots against Creighton and finished with 15 points (5-7 FG, 3-5 3PT), three rebounds, three assists, and one turnover in 26 minutes. He's due for a hot shooting stretch and this is a matchup that should allow him to continue to build confidence on offense.
Malcolm Bernard SR (6-6, 202) vs Brandon Cyrus FR (6-5, 189)
Cyrus is a wing with a good frame and good length. He's best used as a slasher and finisher on the offensive end, but he uses most of his possessions as a spot-up shooter which is not his strength. He's also turnover prone. He's averaging 5.5 points (35.6% FG, 18.8% 3PT) and 4.2 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game. Bernard is averaging 5.7 points (39.1% FG, 36.1% 3PT) and 3.9 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game. He's been cold from the outside over the last few games, but he had a solid performance at Creighton with four points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal, and no turnovers. He also had a key offensive rebound and a clutch floater in the final two minutes to help X seal that win.
Slight Edge Xavier
Trevon Bluiett JR (6-6, 198) vs Tre'Darius McCallum JR (6-7, 209)
McCallum is an athletic and versatile forward with some face-up skills. A lot of his shots come on spot-up opportunities but he's a below average shooter. He's better when he's running the floor in transition, getting offensive rebounds, or cutting to the basket. He's averaging 10.3 points (45.1% FG, 32.8% 3PT) and 7.0 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game. He had 15 points and 11 boards when the Blue Demons gave Butler a scare in a 70-69 overtime loss and 19 points and seven rebounds in their 68-65 loss at Villanova, so he's stepped up in some big games already this year. Bluiett is averaging 18.6 points (44.6% FG, 37.6% 3PT) and 6.0 rebounds in 34.4 minutes per game. Over the last five games, he's been incredible, averaging 25.0 points per game while shooting 58.6 percent from the field and 60.6 percent from 3-point range.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Tyrique Jones FR (6-8, 237) vs Joe Hanel JR (6-7, 213)
Hanel is a scrappy blue-collar forward. He's averaging 5.0 points (67.1% FG) and 5.1 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game. Jones is averaging 3.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game for the season, but he's averaging 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13.0 minutes over the last three games since he's been starting. His 8-for-8 performance with 16 points and four rebounds on Saturday at Creighton against Justin Patton was downright shocking. This game could serve as another huge confidence boost for him as the Blue Demons have no real big men and are soft on the glass.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs DePaul Bench
Senior Chris Harrison-Docks (5-11, 194) is a short and stocky point guard that is averaging 4.6 points (32.9% FG, 32.8% 3PT) in 17.1 minutes per game off the bench. Freshman Devin Gage (6-2, 207) is a strong guard with some playmaking ability, but he struggles as a shooter and a decision-maker. He's averaging 4.0 points (44.4% FG, 17.6% 3PT) in 12.7 minutes per game. For Xavier, RaShid Gaston is averaging 6.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game. He's played well off the bench in each of the last two games. Kaiser Gates is averaging 5.8 points (38.4% FG, 35.4% 3PT) and 4.1 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. He's given the Musketeers a lift with his scoring, his defense, and especially his rebounding at different times over the last three games. Despite the Musketeers being a little thin, they still have a much better bench than DePaul does.
Moderate Edge Xavier
DePaul is ranked 183rd overall in the current KenPom rankings. The Blue Demons are sitting at 180th in the country in offensive efficiency and 190th in defensive efficiency. Xavier has been wanting to play a little slower with Edmond Sumner out and the bench being thin, however, this might be a game where the Musketeers end up pushing the ball anyways because DePaul is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to transition defense. XU should also have a huge advantage on the glass at both ends. The Blue Demons' offense consists of a lot of spot-up jumpers, ballscreens, and pushing the ball in transition - they're below average at all three. Due to their struggles from the outside and their lack of size in the post, this might be a game where we see Xavier really pack it in defensively and possibly play more zone than usual. When the Musketeers have been able to keep their defense tight this year - in man or zone - they've been really successful. The biggest concern with playing this DePaul team is that Garrett and Cain get hot at the same time and their teammates throw in a shot or two to help them out. Aside from that happening, XU should be able to cruise to a comfortable win. DePaul's coaching staff is able to put together a great scout for the Musketeers due to associate head coach Rick Carter's familiarity with Chris Mack's system, but it didn't help them keep the score within 20 either time the teams met up last year.
Predicted score: Xavier 83 DePaul 62