Davis played really well in his first game back from the wrist injury in the win over La Salle. Though he wasn't very aggressive in looking for his shot on the offensive end, he did make plays for his teammates, while taking great care of the ball (7 assists/1 turnover). The wrist doesn't seem to be giving him any trouble at this point. Ingram is a great match-up for Davis, and we may get to see the sophomore score the ball a little bit more for Xavier in this one. While Christon will likely have the team's best defender on him, Davis will be left with Ingram, who is a solid on-ball defender, but even smaller than X's diminutive point guard. On the other end of the court, Ingram isn't much of a threat offensively. He's not a perimeter shooter, and he really doesn't look to shoot often at all. He averages just 6.2 points and 1.4 assists per game.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon Fr (6-3, 187) vs Pierria Henry Sp (6-4, 200)
Christon has been finishing around the basket really well the last few games, and that's something that X needs to continue for the health of the offense. La Salle really had no answer for his speed off the dribble, as he got into the lane at will and made plays. It won't likely be so easy against Charlotte, as Pierra Henry is one of the better perimeter defenders in the country. At 6-4, 200-pounds, Henry uses his size to play physical, while also using his length to make plays and create turnovers. On the offensive end, Xavier has to keep Henry out of the lane. The 49ers offense is bad, but he is the one guy who can make things happen. He easily leads the team in assists, and is also a strong rebounder for a guard.
Slight Edge Xavier
Justin Martin So (6-6, 205) vs Terrence Williams So (6-4, 211)
Martin hasn't been effective in a while for the Musketeers. He seems to be lacking energy on both ends of the court, and has certainly lost the aggressiveness that we has playing with earlier in the year. As Coach Mack said after the La Salle game, he just has to play harder. At the very least, he should be a strong rebounder, and this team could also really use his shooting ability if he can get that going again at any point. Williams is an absolute gunner in every sense of the word, and yet, he's not a shooter in any sense of the word. He shoots a poor percentage, takes bad shots and isn't even really one of those guys who catches fire occasionally and is capable of going off for a big game. If Xavier lets this wing shoot jump-shots as often as possible, it should be a game-plan for success.
After coming through in the win over GW, Robinson had another pretty strong effort against La Salle. Everyone is going to remember that two minute stretch at the end of the first half where he threw down three dunks, but the bigger takeaway for me from that game was Robinson's overall level of activity. It was the best we've seen him play on the defensive end in a while, as he was aggressive, blocking three shots and hauling in six rebounds. He's a huge asset when he's involved. Clayton is a really promising freshman big man for the 49ers. This match-up should be interesting, as Clayton is aggressive and physical, and will not hesitate to try and dominate Robinson inside if the Musketeers' big man isn't giving the same level of effort. However, Robinson does have the better tools, and can make Clayton chase him if he's knocking down 17-footers as he has been, which would take the 49ers top rebounder away from the rim. Keep an eye on who controls this match-up. If Robinson is letting Clayton dominate the glass, we may see a whole lot of Isaiah Philmore.
Taylor has been really, really steady for this team, which is really all you can ask. He's been a permanent fixture on the boards, including his 12 rebound performance against La Salle, and he's been reliable when given the ball in the post. He hasn't been the focal point of the offense for the last handful of games, and he hasn't had a big game since scoring 18 against Wake Forest. The chemistry has worked for the Musketeers on the offensive end though, and Taylor's motor hasn't decreased even slightly due to not getting shots, so don't necessarily expect a change there. Braswell is still the top scorer on this Charlotte team, even though his per game total is down to 11.5 points compared to 15.8 last season. His rebounds and minutes are also slightly down. Braswell still brings a motor, toughness and energy on the glass though. Charlotte's 20-point loss to Richmond in its last game was the first time Braswell had scored in double figures in five games. This will be another big match-up in this game, as controlling the paint is going to be key in this low-scoring affair.
Xavier Bench vs Charlotte Bench
Xavier is back at full strength, even though that only means they are seven scholarship players deep really, but still full strength. Philmore is the interesting one here. He's looked like he's been slowly coming around over the last few games, but has yet to quite break out. With the Muskies playing a young, physical widebody in Clayton tonight, Philmore may be the right guy for the job. If he gets more minutes, maybe we'll see a breakout game from him. The other guy to watch is Redford. For all we know, he may start in this one. He's now scored in double figures for three straight games, which is the first time in his career that has happened. The lift he has provided on the offensive end the last few games is a big reason for the 4-0 start to conference play. Charlotte is deep. They'll play 10 guys throughout the course of the game for extended minutes. The one most X fans are familiar with already is DeMario Mayfield. He's the second leading scorer on the team, and plays more minutes than all of the starters except for Henry. The 49ers also have some length and versatility in 6-6 freshman Darion Clark, who is a great athlete that can make an impact on offense, or at the defensive end and on the glass with his athleticism, and 6-7 sophomore E. Victor Nickerson, who is a stretch forward that will go out and shoot it a little bit.
Moderate Edge Charlotte
Xavier has played in its fair share of ugly games this year, and this one may end up taking the cake when its all said and done. The 49ers play a little bit faster than Xavier, but they're much worse on the offensive end. Both teams win with defense, and they're both going to try and crowd the court tonight and make it impossible for one another to score. Every possession will be important in this game, because of the difficulties they'll likely have scoring on each other. Whoever is able to control the paint on both ends of the court should come away with the win. The Musketeers have done a great job recently of being the tougher team in the paint, owning the boards and points in the paint in their last few games. Another performance like that should lead to another Xavier win, but this game could very easily come down to the final few possessions again.
Score Prediction: Xavier 65 Charlotte 59