Marquette Golden Eagles (12-5, 2-3) vs #7 Xavier Musketeers (15-1, 3-1)
Marquette Stat Leaders
Points: Henry Ellenson, 15.7 ppg
Rebounds: Henry Ellenson, 9.8 rpg
Assists: Traci Carter, 4.9 apg
Marquette Injury Watch: Jajuan Johnson suffered a neck injury against St. John's last Saturday and sat out Wednesday night's game against Villanova. It's unclear as to Johnson's status for this game.
Xavier Stat Leaders
Points: Trevon Bluiett, 15.1 ppg
Rebounds: James Farr, 8.3 rpg
Assists: Myles Davis, 3.6 apg
Xavier Injury Watch: Edmond Sumner suffered a nasty head injury when he was landed on two minutes in to XU's game against Villanova on New Year's Eve. He hasn't played since then, but head coach Chris Mack announced on Thursday that Sumner is cleared to play without any restrictions for Saturday's game against Marquette.
Current KenPom Rankings
KenPom Prediction: Xavier has a 78% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 79-71.
Tempo Free Fun: This game is going to be won or lost (depending on your perspective) when Marquette has the ball. From an efficiency perspective, Xavier's offense (#23 in the country) and Marquette's defense (#53 in the country) kind of neutralize each other. It's the other end of the court that's the issue. Xavier has the eighth best Adjusted Efficiency rating in the country, allowing a meager 91.5 points per 100 possessions. Marquette's offense is scoring more than that, of course, but their 102.5 points per 100 possessions ranks MU waaaaaaaaaaaaay down at #184 in the country. Xavier's defense is top 90 in the country in all four of the Four Factors, topped off by being the 9th best defensive rebounding team in the country. That's powered by James Farr (#22 in the country in defensive rebound rate) and Jalen Reynolds (#55 in the country). Luke Fischer and Henry Ellenson will have to find a way to neutralize that advantage.
Xavier presents a model of how Marquette could be playing. The Musketeers do almost everything well, with their only notable weakness being their own ball control. Xavier's own offensive turnover rate is just 1.7 percentage points better than Marquette's.... but that 1.7 points is the difference between being #280 in the country in turnover rate and being a completely middle of the road #173. If Marquette controls their turnovers and corrals rebounds at a solid rate for them, then that's their best road to a second upset of a top 10 team in as many weeks.
Xavier Last 10 Games: 9-1, including wins in their last three games.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3, including losses in three of their last five games.
All Time Series: Marquette leads 47-19.
Current Streak: Xavier has won the last three meetings.
Henry Ellenson Watch: With 167 rebounds on the season, Henry Ellenson has grabbed the second most rebounds by a Marquette freshman. He's going to be stuck in the #2 spot for a while, as Bo Ellis holds the record with 264 rebounds. His 59 free throws made are the 10th most by a freshman and two away from tying Tony Smith for ninth most. Ellenson is still four free throws short of the 10th most attempts by a MU freshman. Ellenson did not record a block against Villanova, so he is still one short of tying Scott Merritt for the fourth most blocks by a Marquette freshman.
Traci Carter Watch: Carter has recorded 83 assists on the season, the eighth most by a Marquette freshman. He's two away from tying Jerel McNeal for seventh place, three away from Travis Diener in sixth, and six away from Robb Logterman in fifth place.
Follow Along On Twitter
@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@XavierMBB - Official Xavier account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey! That's us!
@BannersParkway - SB Nation's Xavier site
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@Matt_Velazquez - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter