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Scouting the Enemy - When Xavier Has the Ball

Xavier is a very solid offensive team, with four players averaging double figures.  Tu Holloway leads the way, averaging 20.2-5.1-5.5.  He has two triple-doubles to go with that impressive line, but also coughs it up over 3 times per game.  X's second scorer is Holloway's backcourt mate Mark Lyons.  Despite averaging 13.8 ppg, Lyons runs hot and cold and shoots a low percentage.  Big Kenny Frease (7'0" 265) and Jamel McLean round out the double digit scorers with 11.7 and 10.8 ppg respectively.

Xavier's offensive profile doesn't compare closely with any of the other tournament teams Marquette has faced this year.  Their KenPom numbers indicate that they are similar to Notre Dame with a worse eFG%.  Style-wise, they are quite different than the Irish.  They focus more on penetration and drawing fouls.  They get only 22.8% of their points from 3-point land (283rd in the nation) and shoot only 33% from deep. 24.6% of their points come from the line (19th in the nation).  This makes sense as they shoot nearly 75% from the stripe, with Holloway putting away 87% of his throws. 

Xavier is solid in all of the Four Factors save offensive rebounding percentage.  They rebound 33% of their offensive misses, which is 147th in the nation.  Watch out for Jamel McClean on the offensive glass.  He averages 3.6 offensive boards a game. 

As always, I harp on turnovers and Xavier only turns the ball over on 18.2% of their possessions.  MU has been able to force some good teams into trouble with turnovers, notably UConn and Syracuse, so this is another key area to watch.

As mentioned above, Holloway is an explosive scorer.  MU has played against 9 of the top 100 scorers in the nation, including Ben Hansbrough and Marshon Brooks twice.  In nine of those 11 instances, the scorer was held below his season average in points and shooting percentage.  This success has rubbed both ways, though.  Kemba Walker was double-teamed for most of the game at the BC but he was able to involve his teammates effectively, leading to the UConn win.  The big question is how Marquette will play Holloway.  Many are calling for Jimmy to blanket him, but Tu would have a huge quickness advantage.  That plan also creates a matchup issue by putting an MU guard on 6'5" Dante' Jackson and forcing Jae to man up on 6'8" Jamel McClean.  Will Buzz throw out the zone?

My recipe, as usual, is to pack it in defensively with a man-to-man defense and force the poor shooting Musketeers to shoot over Marquette.  To me, that's more palatable than allowing them to drive for high percentage bunnies or forcing fouls on the automatic foul shooting Holloway.

Stayed tuned tomorrow for analysis when Marquette has the ball.