Davis didn't shoot it well in the win over Duquesne, finishing just 2-of-8 from the field and 1-for-4 from beyond the arc, but he played a solid game overall, and most importantly, he made free-throws when it mattered. He had nine points, three assists and only one turnover in the win over Duquesne Saturday night. He has a golden opportunity in this one, going against a smaller team with guards that are even more inexperienced than him. The Musketeers are 6-1 when Davis scores in double-figures - look for that record to move to 7-1 tonight with Davis having a strong game. Myers, like most of Fordham's roster, just isn't really ready to be starting at this level yet. His numbers don't jump out at you with just 4.0 points per game and 2.1 assists as a starter, but he's actually a solid looking freshman guard. In the loss to LaSalle on Saturday, he was one of the few bright spots, finishing with 10 points and two boards. Even at his best right now, Myers is a role player, who isn't much of a threat to score more than 10 or so.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon Fr (6-3, 187) vs Branden Frazier Jr (6-1, 200)
Christon responded nicely from his struggles at Richmond with a strong 16-point, eight-assist performance in the win over Duquesne. He was also named Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Week for the fifth time this season. Just like with Davis though, the biggest positive from the Duquense game was the way he shot free-throws down the stretch. Christon will be the best player on the floor tonight, but he'll b going against a worthy adversary. As Chris Mack said about Frazier, when he gets going from three he's really difficult to stop, because he can do it all. He's a quick guard with enough strength and toughness to get into the lane, with the ability to score or setup his teammates once in there. This is another situation where cutting off the head of the offense will be key against Fordham, as they tend to go as Frazier goes.
Justin Martin So (6-6, 205) vs Mandell Thomas Fr (6-2, 220)
On this site we talked about the game at Duquesne being an opportunity for Xavier to gain some momentum, not just with a convincing win, but with guys like Martin and other guys not named Christon or Taylor. The first part didn't happen, but the second may have, as Martin had a huge game with 15 points and eight boards. It'd be huge for Xavier if he was able to take that performance and use it to get himself going heading into the final weeks of the season. Tonight offers another opportunity for Martin to play a big role, both on offense against a bad defensive team, and on the glass against a team that plays smaller on the wings. Thomas' numbers for the year look decent, but when you take a closer look at the last five games, he becomes a little bit more of a concern for the Musketeers, as he's averaging 16.2 points per game over that stretch, which included a season-high 22-point outburst against Saint Louis last week. He's not the most efficient player in the world, and he takes a lot of jump shots, but X will have to make sure he doesn't get going, as he's one of the few guys on this Fordham team that has shown enough offensive pop to be a game-changer.
Robinson is always a key for Xavier because of the game-changing presence he brings when he plays the way he's capable of, but this game will be important for him because of the way that the Rams rebound the ball. He will have to play tough and be aggressive to negate that, and help give Xavier the edge on the glass, something they've made customary lately. Robinson also needs to get back on track, after stumbling against Duquesne with just four points on 2-of-5 shooting with four turnovers. Fordham's bigs have legit size, and they can take up space, but they don't have the athleticism and length that Robinson can do. He can still cause them problems, especially if he's knocking down the jumper and pulling them away from their comfort zone around the rim. Rhoomes is another solid looking freshman, who has been steady this year, but is being asked to do more than he's ready for at this point. He has played pretty well as of late, especially when it comes to being more physical and providing a presence on the glass. He's averaging 7.4 rebounds per game over the last four contests, including a season-high of 12 against VCU. While Fordham is smaller overall, they do have good size in the post, and they actually rebound the ball really well on the offensive end, with Rhoomes being a big part of that.
Slight Edge Xavier
Taylor had a career performance two games ago with 24 points in the loss to Richmond, and those he only had 13 against Duquesne, he played great once again, hitting 5-of-7 shots from the field and hauling in 12 boards. The one area he did struggle with in that game was his free-throw shooting where he was just 3-of-8. Taylor will have his work cut out for him on the boards in this one, but on the offensive end he should be rather effective due to Fordham not being able to match his quickness and athleticism. Leonard is a big human being, who will have time to develop into a beast if he works on his body over the next few years at Fordham. He's averaging just 6.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, but he's played well lately, averaging 9.6 points per game over the last five, including a 10-point, two-rebound effort last game. He's not active enough or quick enough yet to be a major impact player, but he has some promise, and when he's working hard on the blocks he can make a difference on the glass.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Fordham Bench
Isaiah Philmore has provided a major lift for the Musketeers lately, averaging 11.3 points per game over the last three games, while hitting 12-of-15 shots from the field over that stretch. He had a Xavier career-high 16 points and six boards at Duquesne. He'll likely play a major role in this one as well, because he's playing really well right now and he's taken on the role of defending the bigger, stronger post players that X goes against. This also might be a good game to keep an eye on Redford, as Fordham is terrible at defending the perimeter. Without their top player Chris Gaston, Fordham is left a little thin on the bench. They do have another big man in 6-9 sophomore Ryan Canty, who is a very good rebounder on both sides of the floor. Sophomore guard Bryan Smith adds a little bit of scoring off the bench in the form of a shooter.
Fordham has actually done a decent job of bringing in a solid group of freshman. The problem is, without Chris Gaston, they have nothing else to go with these youngsters. This group has played some inspired basketball at times and given some of the conference's top teams a good game. The last thing Xavier wants to do is go on an early offensive drought that allows the Rams to hang around or even hold an early lead. The longer they think they have a chance on the road at one of the conference's most formidable venues, the more dangerous this young group becomes. Xavier has advantages at multiple spots on the floor. They just have to be aggressive and take the game to Fordham. Branden Frazier got going last year against X, and put up 22 against them, which was enough to keep the Rams in the game, with Xavier eventually winning 67-59 at Rose Hill Gym. If they can slow down Frazier, and take him out of his flow early, they should be fine from there. Expect this one to be a little higher scoring because of Fordham's pitiful defense.
Score Prediction: Xavier 72 Fordham 61