The Matchups: Xavier vs Saint Louis

The Matchups: Xavier vs Saint Louis

Before every game MusketeerReport breaks down the position by position matchups for Xavier's next opponent. This edition focuses on Wednesday night's Atlantic-10 battle against Saint Louis.

Tu Holloway Sr (6-0, 190) vs Kwamain Mitchell Jr (5-10, 175)

The 5-foot-10 floor general hasn't quite returned to his All Atlantic-10 form of two years ago, but he leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio and has scored in double figures in six straight games.  His defense is among the best, too.  He has registered 15 steals in the Bills' last seven games. The same could also be said about Holloway though. At this point in the season, the preseason All-American candidate isn't looking like an Atlantic-10 All-Conference First Teamer. Holloway obviously has the ability to be the best player on the court at times, but he's been more effective as a facilitator as of late, such as when he dished out 12 assists against Saint Joseph's as opposed to when he scored 21 at Dayton but shot just 7-of-16 and never really seemed to get in the flow. The biggest key for Xavier as a team though, is Holloway's defensive effort. He can be a very good perimeter defender and Xavier needs him to be that guy every single night.

Slight Edge Xavier

Mark Lyons Jr (6-1, 188) vs Kyle Cassity Sr (6-4, 200)

Cassity likely won't fill up the stat sheet offensively, but if you ask the Billikens' coaching staff, they'll tell you that they're a better team with him on the floor. He provides a consistent defensive perimeter presence and is averaging career highs in shooting and assist-to-turnover ratio. Lyons has been the most consistent player on Xavier's team all year really. He leads them in scoring with an average of 16.6 points per game, and he's shooting an impressive 42 percent from 3-point range. While the team struggled, Lyons had a pretty nice stat line against Dayton on the offensive end with 20 points, six assists, a steal and only two turnovers. Like Cassity, Lyons can really defend out on the perimeter and may draw the challenge of defending Kwamain Mitchell.

Significant Edge Xavier

Dezmine Wells Fr (6-5, 215) vs Dwayne Evans So (6-5, 205)

The sophomore, Evans, has the potential to have a big night any time he steps on the floor. That being said, against Wells, he'll find someone as big, strong, and more athletic. This could be an important matchup to watch. Both players can bring an offensive spark and grab their team some momentum. Wells' five points he had against Dayton Saturday were the fewest he had scored since he didn't record a point in the Purdue game on December 3. The freshman was on a roll until Saturday, and while he didn't score well, he did play hard and had a solid floor game. Wells usually thrives in games where Xavier is at their best defensively, as those defensive stops lead to easy transition buckets for the fast-break artist.

Slight Edge Xavier

Andre Walker Sr (6-8, 225) vs Brian Conklin Sr (6-6, 230)

Conklin has been the model of consistency for SLU this season. He won't ‘wow' you with his athleticism, but he's fundamentally-sound and possesses an incredibly high motor. Expect him to work hard on the inside against Kenny Frease. Conklin is the Billikens' leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, and he's scored in double figures in all but three games. Walker has been a solid player for Xavier most of the year, especially on defense and on the glass, but he's not going to look to score. Walker has only scored in double figures twice this year, with the last time coming in Hawaii against Southern Illinois. His defense and toughness on the boards against Conklin will be important for Xavier's success.

Significant Edge Saint Louis

Kenny Frease Sr (7-0, 275) vs Rob Loe So (6-11, 240)

Loe is technically a starter, but he averages just 14 minutes per game. He presents a problem for some teams defensively, because he can bring big men away from the basket to guard the three-point line. As a 7-footer, he can stroke it from deep, but will be no match for Frease down low. It'll be determined how long Majerus sticks with Loe if the Xavier behemoth starts to feast in the paint. Of course, Frease, like the rest of the team, struggled mightily at Dayton. He finished with just five points and five boards, with a 2-for-8 performance from the field. He has struggled, at times, to make close shots around the basket. Xavier could have an advantage here, but it's not guaranteed that they take advantage of it at this point.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs Saint Louis Bench

The Billikens go about nine deep with consistent minutes. Cody Ellis, Jordair Jett and Mike McCall all play more than starter Rob Loe. Jett and McCall are a pair of guards that both offer six points a game and steady ball-handling. Ellis is a 6-8 forward that stretches the floor and takes a significant amount of his shot attempts from beyond the arc. He had 17 points against Charlotte two games ago. Xavier has been getting good minutes from Jeff Robinson over the last four contests, as he's scoring 11.0 points and grabbing 4.0 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. They need to him to continue to provide some production at the four. Against Dayton, Dee Davis saw 13 minutes, while the Musketeers utilized a three guard lineup of Davis, Holloway and Lyons all on the court at the same time in the second half. Brad Redford is coming out of his slump a bit. He's hit a pair of threes in four of his last five games, and is 8-for-18 during that stretch.

Moderate Edge Saint Louis

Overall

The biggest key for both teams in this game is going to be their perimeter defense. Saint Louis is really tough to beat when they're making outside shots, and Xavier's backcourt is a tough match-up for the Billikens. The tandem of Mitchell and Kassity, along with Jett off the bench, did do a nice job against T.J. McConnell and Duquesne defensively. They will try to do the same thing to keep Xavier's playmakers out of the lane. When both of these teams are at their best they're both playing great defense, and make it tough for their opponent to score. Offensively, Saint Louis spreads it out and can put a handful of players in double figures when they're sharing the ball. Conklin is their top scorer, and he burnt Xavier last year with a combined 38 points in two games against the Musketeers. This is a big game for both teams. Xavier needs to bounce back after their poor performance at Dayton, before they fall into another losing streak. Saint Louis, meanwhile, has won two straight and sees Xavier as an opportunity to get an NCAA resume-building win to go along with their solid season to date.

Score prediction: Xavier 64 Saint Louis 61

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