Barton doesn't always start, but he has the last two games. He played 30 minutes in the loss to Southern Mississippi and scored 10 points with three rebounds and three assists. He has provided some very solid games like that that this year, and has even had a few breakout performances, like his 19 point outburst against Tennessee. Obviously, for Xavier to win they're going to need Holloway to play like one of the best guards in the country. Part of that means holding down Barton and or Jackson or Crawford on the defensive end. Holloway and Lyons have to lock up defensively and be the better backcourt in this matchup, or Xavier won't have much of a shot at winning. Barton is a very solid shooter from the perimeter and has enough length to get his shot off if you're sagging to far in on him. Holloway has been the complete package in the last two Xavier wins, so don't be surprised to see Memphis try to put Barton or Witherspoon on him at times to try and bother him with length like other teams have tried the last few seasons, most notably Marquette in the NCAA tournament last year.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Mark Lyons Jr (6-1, 188) vs Chris Crawford So (6-4, 212)
Crawford is coming off his season-high output of 23 points, including a 5-of-7 performance from beyond the arc. Crawford averages 9.1 points per game, and it comes as a result of inconsistent performances. He can have 20 points as he showed last game, but he scored just six the game before that. His game stats are littered with double-figures in the scoring column followed immediately with an effort of five points or less. Keeping him from getting loose on the perimeter and heating up is a key. He's especially good at fading to the corner in transition and getting quick threes on the break. Lyons will have to make sure his priority is the team's defense. He struggled mightily against George Washington with his decision-making on the offensive end.
Moderate Edge Xavier
When it comes down to it, Barton is just going to get his. You have to hope he's not in complete takeover mode, and do whatever you can to contain him. He's the leading scorer on the Tigers' roster at 18.6 points per game and he's capable of going for 25-to-30 any given night. Last outing against Southern Mississippi he scored 29. He's a streaky shooter, a good ball-handler with a long wingspan and quick, semi-awkward moves. He can shoot off the dribble, and he's great at getting to the basket. The biggest way the freshman Dez Wells can slow him down is by keeping him off of the glass. Letting him grab offensive rebounds can turn his average nights into big point totals. It's going to be a tough matchup, and Wells might get help from Walker at times, but Xavier's athletic wing has the tools to be a standout defender. He will take his lumps, but this is an opportunity for him to prove his worth as a top defender on the team. Wells is very much into challenges and opportunities to prove himself.
Moderate Edge Memphis
Hall is in the starting lineup for now, but he only played 11 minutes last game when he started, so he's not really playing starter minutes. He doesn't provide a whole lot while in the game. He averages just 3.7 points per game, mostly on dump-offs or put-backs. Defensively, he is pretty solid, but not great. He too is prone to foul trouble when he plays any type of extended minutes. Wesley Witherspoon will come in and play more than half of the minutes at this spot. Robinson has been the best forward on Xavier's roster the last couple of games, though he didn't play too well or even play much at all at George Washington, tallying just two points in 10 minutes of action. Xavier needs better production out of their four spot, whether it's Robinson, Walker or Taylor. They have to score more than seven combined points.
Black will be a tough matchup for Frease inside. He's long, athletic and very talented. He's a good shot-blocker that can control the paint at times when he's physical on the glass. The key for Frease will be to get good position low and use pump fakes to get Black in the air. He fouls at a ridiculous rate and the Memphis frontline becomes much less intimidating with him out of the game. Frease is going to be at a disadvantage on the defensive end too, because of the speed and quickness of Memphis. This matchup may come down to which big man stays out of foul trouble. Frease has been playing better as of late, but Black will be one of the more talented bigs he's played against in a while.
Slight Edge Memphis
Xavier Bench vs Memphis Bench
With freshman standout Adonis Thomas out for the season with an injury, the Tigers are a little thinner. However, they have two players on the bench who play starter minutes. One is senior forward Wesley Witherspoon. When Witherspoon is playing well, the Tigers are very difficult to stop. When he doesn't provide anything, which has happened a fair amount this year with him only averaging 5.9 points per game, their offense loses a dimension. The 6-9 forward can be a difference-maker in the game and a matchup problem when he's locked in. Sophomore Joe Jackson is another talented player that comes off the bench for the Tigers. Jackson has shown glimpses of that lead guard talent he possesses, with the ability to be a leading scorer and run the team. Other times he's been erratic and turnover prone. These two players come off the bench, but they are very important to Memphis' success. Jackson was a 2010 McDonald's All-American and is an explosive athlete. With the current starting lineup for Xavier, they'll often have a bench player playing starter-like minutes as well in Andre Walker. Last game against George Washington, he came in to play 30 minutes. Walker hasn't been much of a threat to score at all this season, though he is the best rebounder on the team. Travis Taylor also has been playing a little bit more recently. He hasn't contributed a whole lot offensively either, but has been better on the defensive end and settling down some on the offensive end. Brad Redford has also become a weapon off the bench again, as he's rediscovered his shot. Dee Davis is seeing his 10 minutes a game, and knocking down the occasional 3-pointer.
Moderate Edge Memphis
Neither one of these teams are playing their best basketball. They've both played played below expectation levels given their respective talent. This should be a very interesting game with either one adding an important resume-boosting win in their final non-conference game. The injury to Adonis Thomas has made the Tigers thinner in the post, and Xavier could have a chance to really make things tough on Memphis by getting Tarik Black in early foul trouble. Frease is going to have to play well to take advantage of that opportunity. The Wells on Barton matchup should be fun to watch, but there's a possibility that it gets ugly for Xavier. Barton is a very talented and unique scorer. The most pivotal aspect of this game may very well be Xavier's guard play. If Lyons and Holloway play like one of the best backcourts in the nation, then the Musketeers can hang with most teams in the country. However, Lyons has been in a funk the last two games, and Holloway's play has been up and down throughout the season. Fortunately for Xavier, his play has been trending up as of late, but they need both to be on top of their game to win a game like this. Making every possession count and getting back on defense will go a long way for Xavier, as Memphis scores extremely well in transition, especially when they are forcing turnovers. Xavier has struggled in each of its last two road games against inferior competition. It's going to be a tall task to go in and beat a talented Memphis team at their own house, where they are 11-1 this season.
Score Prediction:Memphis 68 Xavier 62