4 Things to Watch: DePaul vs. Xavier

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier can't afford a loss to DePaul. They shouldn't be worried, but here's the four things you need to know before tonight's game

(10-16, 2-11)

Wednesday, February 19th | 7 p.m. Eastern
Cintas Center, Cincinnati, OH
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: WIND 560 AM (DePaul), 55KRC-AM (Xavier)

Xavier
(17-8, 7-5)

Brandon Young (15.2 PPG) Leading Scorer Semaj Christon (16.6 PPG)
70.6 Scoring Offense 73.2
75.3 Scoring Defense 67.3
-4.7 Scoring Margin +5.9
.425 Field Goal % .473
0.8 Assist/Turnover Ratio 1.2

DePaul travels into Cincinnati on an eight-game losing skid to play an Xavier squad that has lost four of its last six. With the worst team in the BIG East (yes, worse than cellar-dwelling Butler) coming into town, Xavier can't afford a loss tonight. Here are the four things to watch for tonight's game at the Cintas Center.

Xavier Slipping

Xavier have seen its at-large stock drop over the last few weeks. ESPN's Joe Lunardi currently has the Musketeers as a 10-seed in the BIg Dance, and their schedule after DePaul will only get harder. Xavier will hit the road and play Georgetown and St. John's, and has home games left against Creighton and Villanova. With Marquette and the Johnnies breathing down their necks for the 3-seed in the BIG East, Xavier can ill afford a loss here against DePaul

Guard Play

The most interesting matchup of the game will be between the two front courts. Xavier's Semaj Christon is eighth in the BIG East in points per game, and scored 27 in last month's 84-74 win over the Blue Demons in Rosemont. Dee Davis will be the one feeding Christon the rock, leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio with 2.31. On the other side, Brandon Young has become the de facto leader of the Blue Demons following the loss of forward Cleveland Melvin. Joined with Billy Garrett Jr. and the platoon of Charles McKinney and R.J. Curington in the back court, they make up the majority of the  Blue Demons points. Christon is one of the top guards in the conference though, so DePaul will have to work to shut him down while keeping up in the process.

Purnell's Clock Ticking?

DePaul is no stranger to losing streaks, so this current eight-game slump seems like another Wednesday for fans of DePaul. If anyone wants this season to end the most, it's Oliver Purnell. He has not kept up his end of the bargain since joining the program four years ago, and critics have consistently called for his head each BIG East season. With another lackluster recruiting class coming in, Purnell will face either the unemployment line or one final chance to turn it around in the offseason, but he hasn't earned a bit of confidence from his superiors.

Xavier's Game to Lose

Like much of the BIG East, Xavier should beat DePaul easily at home. But like St. John's did earlier this season, Xavier can't afford to let up against the Blue Demons. Christon and Davis has to be on his A-game, as should their front court of Matt Stainbrook, Justin Martin and Isaiah Philmore. They're up against a smaller, inexperienced team with not nearly enough talent as they have. With the home crowd behind them, this should be a no-brainer for Xavier. But the great thing about sports is this: anything is possible.

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