#6 Villanova Wildcats (26-2) vs. Xavier Musketeers (18-11)
When: Saturday, February 28, 2015, at 2 p.m.
Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, OH
Result of Previous Meeting: Villanova won 88-75 at home on January 14
Key Players for Xavier: #40 Matt Stainbrook (6-10, 263) Sr., C; #5 Trevon Bluiett (6-6, 215) Fr., F; #15 Myles Davis (6-2, 195) So., G
Scouting Report: Similar to Providence, the Xavier Musketeers are a much different team when they play at home. This season, they boast an impressive 13-2 record at the Cintas Center. Their two losses came from St. John’s and Creighton. However, they have also gotten impressive victories, beating then-ranked #19 Butler, then-ranked #19 Seton Hall (starting the slow decline), and then-ranked #25 Georgetown by 17. It’ll be Xavier’s Senior Night, so be prepared for an emotionally charged game. Expect seniors Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis to give it their all. Stainbrook is the big man in the middle who is at the center of it all, literally and figuratively. He averages 11.6 points per game and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game. Stainbrook is not the most athletic player out there, but he certainly knows how to use his size and body to bully opposing teams in the paint. He has a sweet hook shot that helps him finish around the basket. Offensively, he has been quiet as of late, putting up no more than seven points in any of the last three games. Senior Night should inspire him to turn all that around. As for Dee Davis, he plays more of a facilitator role for the Musketeers. He only averages 8.5 points per game, but has a nice average of 6.1 assists per game. He is also one of the better defenders on this Xavier squad. He is a solid perimeter defender and can apply pretty good on-ball pressure. As the senior leadership gear up to play their last game at home, the future is looking bright. Freshman Trevon Bluiett leads the team in scoring. He is capable of attacking the basket and can even pull up to make three pointers. He is an athletic forward that creates matchup problems. Bluiett has the speed and quickness to get an edge over bigger opponents, but has the size and strength to overcome smaller ones. Another freshman, Remy Abell, can do a little of everything on offense and defense. He’s a reliable on-ball defender and can contribute a steady amount of points. Another key player for the Musketeers is Myles Davis. He averages 11.2 points per game and is one of Xavier’s better three point shooters. Recently, he had an excellent game against then-ranked #19 Butler. Xavier beat the Bulldogs at home 73-56. He had 18 points, including three baskets from long range. He even added three assists and four steals. Also keep an eye out for Jalen Reynolds. Reynolds may come off the bench, but he is just as important to the Musketeers as a starter would be. He is a built, tough forward who is adept at finishing around the basket. He’s also a solid rebounder, racking up a second-best 6.3 boards per game. Reynolds averages just under 10 points per game and scores at an efficient rate. He is shooting 62.2% overall. As a team, they love to share the ball to maintain a balanced attack. The Musketeers have the eighth highest average in the nation when it comes to assists. While Villanova has been a perfect example of team-ball, Xavier’s 16.9 assists per game gives them the slight edge over the Wildcats.
Outlook: This is going to be a tough game. Last season, Villanova had the pleasure of playing at Xavier on their Senior Night. The win didn’t come easy, but the Wildcats emerged victorious. I expect this rematch to be very emotional. Not only because it is their final home game, but because there is some unfinished business. Both teams were very chippy in the first meeting at Villanova. I would not be surprised if both sides haven’t forgotten about that. From a basketball standpoint, Villanova needs to work from the inside out on offense and defense. They need to limit what Stainbrook can do on offense and make Xavier work from the three point line. The Musketeers are great at attacking the basket, but the same can’t exactly be said for their long range game. Stainbrook was very efficient in the first game, shooting 7-for-8 on the floor en route to a 17 point performance. Offensively, Villanova needs to do their best in establishing a interior presence. It will be tough with all that size Xavier presents up front, but it is necessary that the Wildcats do so. Villanova won because they sunk an exciting 15 three point baskets. The same success might not be there this time around, so it is necessary to get that balanced attack going.