March is here! A marquee Big East matchup is the highlight of the night, as Xavier will travel to Providence in a battle of top 20 teams.
Last time out against Seton Hall, the Xavier Musketeers were back on track and they dominated the Pirates. They must continue that performance as they face another difficult road test.
Providence had a similar performance in beating Georgetown in its last game. The Friars will now have the chance to avenge a difficult loss to this Xavier side in front of a large home crowd.
The Musketeers displayed a remarkable offensive performance against Providence in their first meeting, and may be able to improve it this time.
Xavier holds a significant advantage in this matchup from beyond the arc. It is fourth in the country for 3-point shooting percentage and has increased its 3-point volume from the first matchup.
The Musketeers were 8-of-24 from deep. But, if they can sink more, it will accentuate their advantage in the paint. Jack Nunge and Zach Freemantle have been as formidable as their physical presence has overwhelmed many teams.
Providence is a smaller squad that has struggled to stop second-chance buckets. The big men at Xavier will be responsible for clearing out the Musketeers’ shots from the outside and keeping the offense moving.
If the Friars want to catch up to the Musketeers, they will need to adapt their play style. They are a team that prefers to play inside the big men and work the ball.
Bryce Hopkins and Ed Croswell will be the smaller men at the bottom. Hopkins can still have a significant impact if he chooses to stretch the floor.
This Xavier team has been vulnerable from the perimeter and it ranks 291st in 3-point percentage allowed. Providence is blessed with a group of men who are able to take out the Musketeers.
This adjustment was made by Providence in its first meeting. It went 9-for-20. I expect that the Friars will shoot well again. The Friars shot 38% from deep, which would be 3% more than the Division I average.
The last matchup was a great game that was not decided until Xavier won it in overtime. Look for the same kind of matchup again as these are two high-quality teams.
Although Providence has a significant home-court advantage, it is not enough to separate these two teams on the court. We needed overtime to settle the first matchup.
Both teams will again be at it and attempt to match one another on the court. This one could go down to the wire once again, with the 3s flying and the pace faster than usual.
I’m going to take the over and watch the scoreboard light up.
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