An early Christmas present for Flyer fans as Allah has blessed us with a delightful tilt with the Xavier Musketeers. Let’s all be honest, we missed our friends from northern Kentucky.
I like the tenor of this particular contest. Both teams are undefeated, seemingly on their way to the NCAA tournament regardless of tomorrow’s outcome. This will be a great win come Selection Sunday and, on the flip side, a loss won’t be looked at with scorn.
I’m not saying this game is meaningless (OK, maybe I am), I’m merely making the case that you shouldn’t get overly emotional about this one. Bragging rights are for lesser men and this is likely the most impassive matchup since UD and X first played back in 1920 (UD leads the series, 84-74, by the way). The direction of Dayton’s season, and Xavier’s, won’t change after Sunday. Both programs are on the right path.
That being said, I really want Dayton to win this fucking game.
I was out of commission for the Monmouth game but had it DVR’d and watched it this morning fully nude.Quick Notes
- The Flyers once again let their foot of the gas and let a less talented team almost beat them. I don’t like that, guys. I don’t cotton to it.
- Scoochie Smith may be one of the best point-guards in the nation. His improvement from year to year is evident and he has a gigantic set of balls, knocking down another huge shot last night against Monmouth. Beyond thrilled we have him back next year.
- Kendall Pollard can’t stay out of foul trouble, could be attributable to guarding quicker, more athletic players now that Big Steve is UD’s big man on both ends of the floor. X Williams has been the benefactor of Pollard foul woes, picking up 25 minutes of play last night.
- Outside of the X-Man, the freshmen have been pretty non-existent in Orlando. Bobby Wehrli played eleven minutes against Monmouth, which may indicate Archie doesn’t completely trust the youngsters yet.
- Charles Cooke or Dyshawn Pierre, if you have to pick one, who you got?
Xavier comes into the game with an unblemished 6-0 record. The Overlords have some impressive victories – a double-digit win over Missouri, a mollywhopping of Alabama and a dismantling of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Xavier looked sluggish in victories over Northern Kentucky and Miami Ohio but I’m going to chalk that up to complete disinterest on the part of the Muskies (by the way, excellent trolling by Xavier scheduling Wright State. Touche.).
Chris Mack returns three starters from last season’s topsy-turvy team that finished sixth in the New Big East – Dee Davis and Matt Stainbrook have moved onto greener pastures. The Overlords got one round farther than the Flyers in the NCAA tournament, bowing out in the Sweet 16 against Arizona. It was Xavier’s ninth trip to the tournament in the past ten seasons, pretty remarkable (Xavier is also one of only nine programs to make the Sweet 16 at least five times since 2008).
The Musketeers play at a rapid pace, averaging around 74 possessions per game (scoring 79 points per contest). Xavier has consistently been a solid rebounding squad, and this year is no different. Mack’s team is grabbing 44 boards a game and outrebounding their opponent by an impressive margin of 14.5 rebounds. Depth is the one area in which the Muskies are lacking, usually going no more than 7-8 deep a game. X features a balanced offensive attack with seven players averaging at least seven points a game.
Xavier was picked to finish fourth in the New Big East’s preseason poll, right behind Butler and just in front of Kris Dunn’s Providence squad. They certainly have the pieces to get to another Sweet 16 this year, it would be nice feather in the cap for UD to take them down.
Myles Davis takes over at the point for Dee Davis. While not as good a distributor as Dee, Myles is tough matchup on both sides of the floor. He finally shaved his head as well, which is one of the best things about being a black guy — the ability to shed all of your hair without looking like a cancer patient (I’m looking at you, Ron Driesen!).
Trevon Bluiett, a New Big East all-rookie player last year, and Remy Abell, the transfer from Indiana, make up the rest of Xavier’s starting backcourt. Bluiett is off to a fast start, leading the Overlords in scoring. Abell has been in a slump to start the season, shooting just 33% from the floor thus far.
If there was a punch in this game, Jalen Reynolds is the odds on favorite to have thrown it. The Xavier big man is freakishly athletic for his size and will pose major problems for Dayton defensively. Freshman Edmond Sumner rounds out the starting lineup — Sumner actually played in five games last season before Mack decided to shut him down for the year and redshirt him. A confidence builder to be sure.
JP Macura is the white guy off the bench. He is an extremely efficient player who gets the most out of his twenty minutes a game. James Farr is the muscle, the guy you had behind when you get in a tussle at a watering hole. I watched Xavier play three times this year and don’t even remember Larry Austin at all, couldn’t pick him out of a lineup with the members of Earth, Wind and Fire.
When you look at X’s offense they clearly have a main driver in how they get buckets. They get to the line. Xavier is currently 7th in the country as far as scoring from the stripe is concerned. 28.7% of their points come from the charity stripe mostly due to a high free throw rate (they shoot 1 free-throw for every 2 field-goals they attempt) and shooting almost 77% from the line.
Much of this is driven by freshman Edmond Sumner who has drawn fouls at an even greater rate than Pollard did last year, drawing almost 7 per 40 minutes. KP was slightly above 6 last year and we all know how well he gets to the line. Jalen Reynolds, JP Macura, and Myles Davis all get to the line at a noteworthy clip as well.
Firmly believe the Sweater Nation™ will be the difference in this one. I expect a typical back-and-forth game between these two behemoths of southwestern Ohio college basketball,with some rough stuff thrown in for good measure. In the end, LOWD comes through and the Flyers dispatch their Overlords, 71-69.