Dee Davis So (6-0, 161) vs Frantz Massenat Jr (6-4, 180)
Dee Davis is the team's leading scorer after four games, while shooting 47.8 percent from beyond the arc. He's also averaging 5.2 assists and a steal per game. He's been the Musketeers' best player defensively, and has just had a very solid overall start to his season. There were a few times yesterday where X's offense needed him to be a little more aggressive, but he's been their most consistent player. His and Semaj's quickness could really give Drexel's backcourt some trouble. Massenat has the highest usage rate on Drexel's team, and most of the time when he has the ball he's trying to create a scoring opportunity. He's not really a pass-first guy, but he does lead the Dragons with 5.5 assists per game. He scores most of his points off of isolation situations or when someone sets a ball-screen for him. He prefers to get to the rim when he's going right, or pull-up for a jumper when going left. Yesterday against St. Mary's he scored 17 and hit a pair of threes. Xavier will have to make sure they don't let him get going. He doesn't shoot a great percentage, but like with most scorers, if you let him make a couple he's streaky and can get hot.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon Fr (6-3, 187) vs Derrick Thomas Sr (6-4, 185)
Semaj Christon had his first of many games last night in which he'll lead X in scoring, finishing with 18 points. He's starting to assume the leadership role of this team naturally, and I think he and Dee can be the ones that take control. He hasn't shot the ball well yet, mostly due to his elbow, but he looked pretty much normal yesterday when shooting, so it's possible that he gets his jumper going a little bit over the next few games. That will only add to his scoring as he's already shown that he can finish around the basket. Thomas is a solid wing player for Drexel that can do a lot of things on the court, but isn't great at any of them. He likes to jack threes, but he's 3-for-16 so far on the year. His best scoring night came against Illinois State when he scored 13, and every other game he's had six, while averaging 35.5 minutes per contest. When he's looking to drive and make plays and is more involved with the offense, he's a much better player than when he is just floating around waiting for an opportunity to shoot a jumper.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Justin Martin So (6-6, 205) vs Damion Lee So (6-6, 195)
Justin Martin's overall line isn't bad from last night, but he hit two threes real late in the game that accounted for over half of his points. His steal and three in transition was a big play, but it was almost too little too late. The Musketeers need him or Robinson to contribute more on the offensive end, or they are going to have some struggles. The Musketeers would like to see Martin be a more consistent presence in their offense throughout the game. Drexel's leading scorer and usual starter is senior Chris Fouch, a 3-point shooter, but sophomore guard Damion Lee is filling in for the injured Fouch right now. Lee is expected back in the lineup today, after missing the last two games with a concussion. Before that, Lee was off to a good start, scoring 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting against Illinois State. He's a big guard that can do a little bit of everything - shoot from the outside, score in the lane and rebound. He's still finding his way on the defensive end, but he has the tools to make plays. He also adds a lot of size to their lineup, so it will be interesting to see if that has any effect on this Xavier squad that has struggled to keep teams off of the offensive glass.
Jeff Robinson Sr (6-10, 225) vs Dartaye Ruffin Jr (6-8, 250)
Jeff Robinson looks very similar to the Jeff Robinson we've seen the last two years. He had a monster two-handed dunk in the second half yesterday, but other than that he was a non-factor in the game on either end. He was a difference-maker against Butler and played well against Fairleigh Dickinson, but the inconsistency that has plagued his entire career is rearing its head once again. The Musketeers could definitely use a pick-me-up from Robinson today with a big effort. Ruffin is a tough, widebody that has great endurance and has been picking up his play over the last few games for the Dragons. In Drexel's lone win against Penn, he led the way with 15 points and 7 boards, including 5 offensive. He had 12 points and 3 rebounds last night. The problem for Drexel is he hasn't been very good defensively. Xavier will be giving up some bulk inside in this one, but they definitely have a quickness advantage in the post. The Musketeers need to take advantage of Ruffin, who seems to be a step slow both physically and mentally on that end of the court.
Slight Edge Drexel
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vsDaryl McCoy Sr (6-9, 270)
Taylor had some good moments yesterday on offense, especially through the middle of the first half, but Pacific was able to take him away in the second half by double-teaming him every time he got the ball. He was strong with the ball and got fouled twice when this happened, but he's got to do a better job of making a good pass out of the double as he threw one away and looked uncomfortable trying to get it to the open man. In this matchup, he'll really have to hit the glass hard to combat Drexel's size. McCoy is a big body that can rebound and eat space. That's about where his usefulness stops, but he can impact the game by clogging the lane and grabbing boards. Against Penn he hauled in 14 rebounds, 7 on each end of the court, and finished with a season high of four points. Again, Xavier has to use their quickness in the post to take advantage of these bigger, slower big men for Drexel that really seem to struggle defensively.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Drexel Bench
The Musketeers got killed by Pacific's bench yesterday, but Xavier isn't going to get a lot of production from their bench this year. I think that's pretty clear. Pacific had a few of their top shooters on their bench that have been slowed by injuries to start this year, so that bench points stat was somewhat meaningless. Either way, the Musketeers could use some production out of Brad Redford or Isaiah Philmore. Stenger can buy you some minutes with his effort and rebounding, but he's not going to be a guy that comes in and scores a lot. Drexel is a little thin right now with Fouch out. Freshman 6-7 forward Tavon Allen has brought a big boost to the Dragons' lineup, after missing the first two games. In the win over Penn and last night's loss to St. Mary's, Allen scored 15 and 16 points respectively. He's a stretch forward that can really shoot it from beyond the 3-point arc (4-5 so far on the year). He also uses his length to make plays on defense in the passing lanes. Keep an eye on him when he comes into the game, as he can really change the momentum. Kazembe Abif is another 6-7 forward that comes off the bench for Drexel. He's not skilled like Allen, but he can help on the boards and the defensive end, similar to the role that Stenger will play for Xavier.
Slight Edge Drexel
Drexel has really struggled to stop its opponents so far this year, giving up an average of 71.8 points per game. They have rebounded the ball much better than Xavier and have two big guys with some circumference in the post. One of the big questions in this game will be who wins the battle inside? Will Xavier's bigs use their quickness to get transition buckets and easy points inside against the bigger and slower Dragons, or will the Musketeers disappear offensively and struggle to rebound on both ends? Xavier needs a big day out of Martin, Robinson, Philmore or Redford to go with the usual performances from Davis, Taylor and Christon to get back on track and get a big W… Otherwise, it might be another nail-biter in Anaheim for Xavier fans.
Score Prediction: Xavier 70 Drexel 62