Andy Mac: Scouting Villanova at Xavier -Jan 12 on FS1!!!
Andy Mac Williams,
The Muskies 12-2 start is excellent! Not to be repetitious, but XU's 17 NCAA NET is the cat's meow re NCAA Tournament selection. Forget about Top 25s and KenPom's and RPIs and the subjectivity of the 9 person NCAA Selection Committee . NET officially rules re at large bids and seeding. The BIG EAST is rocking it in NET(6 schools in Top 44) w/ Villanova 7, UConn 14, XU 17, Seton Hall 26, Providence 35 and Marquette 44. Creighton is a bubblelicious 64. DePaul at 104 and St Johns at 108 have work to do. Butler (136) and Georgetown (192) are on NCAA life support. It is early sort of but NETs in TOP 6 basketball conferences are hard to move after non-conference is done.
X ideally has 17 BE games left (2-1) tied for 3rd w/ Creighton-1GB of Villanona and PC (Both 4-1). PC was scheduled to play at Creighton Tuesday. That game is now postponed due to Covid issues in Providence camp. Hopefully-Creighton at Xavier will go on Saturday at Cintas(Noon-FOX WXIX 19). Still XU is in a strong spot w/ 3-2 NET Quad 1 record-3 roadkills (Va Tech, Oklahoma State and Butler) and zero bad losses.
So beating Villanova Wednesday at Cintas(6:30-FS1) is not vital, but it's important. VU (7NET) would be a home Quad 1 win for X. Nova obviously is the BIG EAST gold standard. Xavier claws into the Top 15 by beating them anywhere and exorcises the Philly Demons of that 71-58 meltdown loss to VU 3 weeks ago.
Home court should make a HUGE difference in this match-up of TOP 15 programs. X is 9-0 at Cintas w/ notable wins over Ohio State and UC and suddenly sexy Marquette. The overall NEW BIG EAST series between X and VU shows Nova ahead 15-2, but Muskies have won 2 of 7 at Cintas(2016 and 2019).
X was robbed in an OT BET loss at MSG in 2019. Travis Steele teams have played VU close. X led 38-30 at the half on Dec 21st 2021 before a bevy of turnovers and missed 3s doomed them at the Pavilion. There's hope here. Xavier is deeper and bigger and at home.
Villanova is playing at a high level now after learning vs a killer early schedule. They blew early leads vs UCLA and Purdue. They took a beating in Waco like everybody does at #1 Baylor. Creighton thumped them in Omaha.
Since that ugly loss to CU, Nova is 4-0(11-4 overall, 4-1 BE) allowing a scant 57 PPG-barely turning the ball over-playing perfect form Jay Wright basketball. Wright has a tight 6 man rotation without a true rim protector BIG. Guards Colin Gillespie and Justin Moore are back to back BE Players of the Week. They combined for 59 points in Saturday's 79-64 win at DePaul.
Vets Jermaine Samuels and Brandon Slater are forwards and new starter Eric Dixon is the 5 man but plays all over. Stocky Caleb Daniels plays 29 minutes/game off the bench. He killed XU in Philly w/ a monster dunk off an ob play to end the 1st half and 14 points overall.
VU is wedded to their hustling ball screen switching defense. Everybody can defend 1-5 and move their feet. They religiously front the post and show their hands while they bang you body on body. Same old story on offense-50% of shots are 3s.
They offensive rebound and crush your spirit by recycling the shot clock. Patience! Slow pace! A blizzard of bounce passes and shot fakes! Very disciplined! If you panic, they bury you w/ a barrage of 3s.
X is wise to their style and has the experience and talent to beat them. # point shooting is Nova's staple. Don't try to outgun them. Limit their open 3 looks by staying tight on their shooters and forcing drives. Cut down on their shagging long rebounds(Colby Jones' specialty). Expect contact on drives and play through it to get to FT line. Win the FT and rebound numbers handily and play off two feet to trim turnovers under 10. The formula for a Muskie win is there!
Only Dwon Odom played well at Nova. Coming off slick offense at Butler in front of a rabid crowd at Cintas, I like Xavier's chances!! Road wins are going to be scarce in the beastly BIG EAST. Quad 1 home wins are vital.
X has the potential for a Top 4 protected NCAA Tourney Seed and beating Villanova at Cintas would go far in making that a reality. Muskies 72-Villanova 67 IMHO