Quentin Goodin FR (6-4, 194) vs Billy Garrett Jr. SR (6-6, 213)
Garrett is a big, playmaking combo guard that will be making his final appearance at Allstate Arena. 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 87.9 percent free-throw shooter from the charity stripe. He's averaging 14.8 points (37.9% FG, 36.2% 3PT), 3.4 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 29.0 minutes per game. He scored 12 points and dished out four assists but had five turnovers in the Blue Demons' loss at Cintas Center last month. Goodin is averaging 4.4 points (32.4% FG, 25.6% 3PT), 3.3 assists, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.7 turnovers in 21 minutes per game. He had five points (2-6 FG), eight assists, and two turnovers in 29 minutes last time against DePaul. The Blue Demons' lack of big men around the rim should provide him with confidence when attacking and looking to score.
Moderate 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 15.7 points per game (40.7% FG, 35.5% 3PT) to go with 4.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 33.2 minutes per game. He scored 15 points (6-14 FG, 1-5 3PT), grabbed five boards, and dished out four assists in the first game between these teams. Macura is averaging 14.7 points (41.8% FG, 32.3% 3PT), 4.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 33.1 minutes per game. He struggled with his shot when these teams played at the Cintas Center but he remained aggressive when attacking and got to the free-throw line a lot where he was a perfect 7-for-7 to finish with 13 points, seven boards, and six assists. His play and his energy are going to be crucial to the Musketeers' success in this one,
Slight Edge DePaul
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 6.1 points (37.1% FG, 23.5% 3PT) and 4.1 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per game. XU tried to make him beat them in the first game and he made them pay by scoring 18 points (7-12 FG, 2-4 3PT) and grabbing six boards in 36 minutes. Bernard is averaging 6.0 points (39.9% FG, 38.2% 3PT), 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 27.4 minutes per game. He's scored his season-high, 13 points, in back-to-back games now and is playing as well as he has all year. He had nine points (8-18 FG, 4-8 3PT), three assists, and two steals but also four turnovers in the last game against DePaul.
Slight Edge DePaul
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 9.9 points (45% FG, 28.9% 3PT) and 6.6 rebounds in 30.9 minutes per game. He had six points (3-8 FG, 0-2 3PT) and four rebounds in the first meeting between these teams before fouling out after 29 minutes of action. Bluiett is averaging 17.8 points (44.1% FG, 38% 3PT), 5.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 34.3 minutes per game. He had 20 points and seven boards (three offensive) last time against DePaul. The Musketeers will not win this game if he turns in another performance like he did against Marquette on Wednesday night. They need more effort out of him on both ends.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Sean O'Mara (6-10, 244) vs Joe Hanel (6-7, 213)
Hanel is a high IQ, coach's son-type forward. He's averaging 4.6 points (65.9% FG) and 4.9 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game. He posted two points and one rebound in the loss at the Cintas Center. I have a hunch that we're going to see a lot of O'Mara in this game so I have him slotted in the starting lineup. He played three minutes in the first game against DePaul and registered only two turnovers and a foul. Over the last five games, he's been pretty reliable off the bench, including a 14-point, five-rebound effort a few weeks ago against Marquette. He's averaging 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game. This is a pretty ideal matchup for any frontcourt player in the Big East.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs DePaul Bench
Chris Harrison-Docks is a short and stocky point guard that is averaging 6.0 points (37% FG, 36.4% 3PT) in 18.1 minutes per game off the bench. He had eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, 2-of-6 from deep, last time against XU. Freshman Devin Gage is a point guard with some playmaking ability, but he struggles as a shooter and a decision-maker. He's averaging 3.9 points (47.4% FG, 23.8% 3PT) in 11.5 minutes per game. He's coming off of one of his best performances of the year as he scored 12 points in the Blue Demons' loss to Providence on Tuesday. Freshman center Levi Cook has seen a surge in his minutes recently as he's tallied 19, 17, and 16 minutes over the last three games. He only played two minutes in the last game against XU. For Xavier, Tyrique Jones gave the Musketeers a nice lift last time against DePaul with eight points (3-4 FG) and four boards in 21 minutes. Expect him and O'Mara to get most of the minutes in the post in this one. Gates really struggled with his shot in the first meeting against the Blue Demons, but he was really active on the boards. He went 1-for-6 from the field and 1-for-4 from 3-point range with three points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes.
DePaul is ranked 177th overall in the current KenPom rankings. The Blue Demons are sitting at 190th in the country in offensive efficiency and 167th in defensive efficiency, which marks a climb of 23 spots since the last time they played X. Xavier is ranked 46th overall, 33rd in offensive efficiency, and 87th in defensive efficiency. The Musketeers won the last game between these teams by absolutely dominating the glass. The Musketeers grabbed 48 percent of their misses on the offensive end and 75 percent of DePaul's misses at the other end. However, XU also received a boost from Bluiett and Bernard combining to go 7-of-12 from 3-point range, something this team hasn't been able to rely on when on the road this season. After the performance on Wednesday night at home against Marquette, it's hard to see this group of players being the tougher, more locked in team on the road. If Bluiett and Macura aren't hitting shots at a high clip, this could spell the end of the Musketeers' at-large hopes for the NCAA tournament.
Predicted score: DePaul 72 Xavier 68