The Xavier Musketeers will enter this battle in the top-25 and coming off a huge win over the Cincinnati Bearcats in one of the biggest rivalry games in the country. Wake Forest has lost three-straight games and find themselves treading water at a now 5-5 record.
The Musketeers had dropped a five-point game to Florida in the championship game of the Charleston Classic near the end of November. Now, they have reeled off three wins in a row, with the latest of those being the biggest. Xavier reclaimed bragging rights in the series, beating the Bearcats for their ninth win in the last 13 games of the rivalry. Naji Marshall put the Muskies on his back and allowed the Muskies to win with a dominant performance in a game that was not as close as the score would have indicated. The Muskies are a deeply talented team that still has not solved the dilemma on the offensive side of the court, as the half-court offense still seems out of whack. Defensively the Musketeers are one of the best teams in the country and the Demon Deacon should have a hard time scoring points.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Demon Deacons opened the year by winning five of their first seven games, with the two losses coming in road games against Boston College and Charlotte. They picked up wins against Columbia, UNC Asheville, Davidson, Charleston, and Long Beach State. However, they have now lost their last three games to drop to 5-5. Two of those games were tough road contests—losses at then-No. 14 Arizona and Penn State (who just beat Maryland). The most recent outing was a 91-82 home loss to North Carolina State last weekend.
Senior Guard Brandon Childress is the best player for the Demon Deacons and the Xavier guards Paul Scruggs and Quentin Gooden will have their hands trying to shutdown Childress.
Xavier is way too talented and should handle Wake Forest, but a road game against an ACC team is always a challenge. The depth of the Musketeers and the simple fact that the starting five is also better should lead to a Xavier win relatively easily. The only worry here is Xavier kind of disappears on the offensive floor at times.
Xavier 72 Wake Forest 60