1. Will Xavier be able to contain Georgetown on offense?
Devonte Brooks: Georgetown is a good offensive team when Joshua Smith is on the floor. Smith is used on more than 28 percent of Georgetown's offensive possessions, which is the highest on the team as of right now according to KenPom.com. Xavier on the other hand is ranked 103rd in the nation and only allowing 97.1 points per 100 possessions, but is scoring 81.8 points per game. Georgetown is an up-tempo offense type of team that can get out and run when they go small. Aaron Bowen is a key part of the team and is an energy type of guy. It will be hard for Xavier to defend Georgetown because they have people who can shoot the ball and also attack and Matt Stainbrook will need to be huge and defend Smith well.
Josh Bozzick: X has had a tough time controlling any team's offense this season. To think they will contain Georgetown's offense is wishful thinking. However, this Hoyas team is not the offensive juggernaut that Creighton was last year. Xavier beat No. 9 ranked Dougie McBuckets and company at home last season, and held them to 69 points, which was below their average. Xavier is letting their opponents score 63 points per game at home and 72 points per game when on the road. The Musketeers should be able to hold this Hoyas team below their season average of 75 points. If so, X should be in a good position to get the win.
Sheridan Murphy: Xavier has struggled on defense for much of this season. If they are to guard Georgetown effectively it will start with holding DSR and Joshua Smith to single digit scoring this evening. This game is in Cincinnati, however, and the Musketeers play their best basketball in the Cintas Center where Xavier has won over 70% of their games since its open in 2000. If Xavier will be victorious tonight it will be because of hard-nosed defense and a lightning atmosphere in Cintas.
2. What Does Xavier need to do to beat Georgetown at home?
JB: Feed the mammouth down low, Matt Stainbrook, right from the start. Try to get Josh Smith in foul trouble early. When Smith is on the floor the Hoyas are a completely different team. Georgetown did not start their run to beat Indiana until Josh Smith came back into the game. He is so hard to move and contain inside because he brings in double teams and is then able to find one of the many Hoya shooters around the perimeter. X needs to get the big man out early. DSR can get his, but Smith cannot.
SM: They need to get Trevon Bluiett and Matt Stainbrook going, first of all. Good distributing and defense from Dee Davis will also be vital for a Xavier win. Remy Abell is Xavier's best defender and he will most likely be challenged with guarding DSR all night. If he can do a decent job defensively and produce when needed on offense Xavier will be hard to beat. Xavier plays about nine deep and if all nine of those players can score tonight then I expect a Xavier win in a very competitive game.
3. Will the focal point of this game be each team's frontcourt or backcourt?
JB: Both teams are blessed with options in either. As pivotal of a battle it will be inside between Stainbrook and Smith, and Hopkins and Reynolds, the backcourt is going to be the focal point. DSR is averaging around 15 PPG. LJ Peak 10 PPG, and Aaron Bowen 9.0 PPG. For Xavier, Remy Abell is averaging 10.0 PPG, Myles Davis 10.0 PPG, and Dee Davis 9.0 PPG. The backcourt will decide this game no doubt. If Dee Davis plays controlled and in himself, and Myles Davis hits some 3-point daggers like he did last year against Gtown then X will be set-up for the W. If DSR hits shot after shot, Aaron Bowen provides valuable timely baskets off the bench, and LJ Peak is aggresive looking for his shot, then the Hoyas will be primed for the W.
SM: That is a difficult question to answer. Both teams have had success this season playing fast-break, open court basketball with their backcourt as well as getting the ball to their frontcourt players and playing an inside-out style of game. I hope it is a frontcourt battle, personally, because the matchup of Joshua Smith and Matt Stainbrook in the paint is going to be a gem. If those two behemoths can neutralize each other it will be anyone's game.
4. How much of an impact will the crowd at Cintas Center have on the game?
JB: Huge. Cintas is as tough a place to play as their is. The X-men rarely lose at the place and hold an impressive .878 winning % at Cintas since its opening in 2000. This is the Hoyas first true road game all year, and first college road game for their impactful 2014 recruiting class. The Hoyas were beating the Musketeers 53-36 last year at Cintas with 14:46 left to play. X won the game 80-67. In a nutshell, this game last year explains the impact of the home crowd for Xavier at Cintas. Very few games end in a 44-14 run. X won that game because of the home crowd, and beat #9 ranked Creighton last year because of the crowd. Cintas will be rocking, and that rocking usually translates to Xavier putting together a great performance out on the court.
SM: The crowd at Cintas Center will be crazy! Cintas has been one of the toughest places to play since it opened in 2000. Just last year they beat the offensive juggernaut that was Doug McDermott's Creighton Bluejays, something not many people saw coming. The year before, Xavier beat a ranked Memphis team at home when they were barely over .500. It is not uncommon for Xavier to beat talented, ranked teams at home and a win over Georgetown would not be all that shocking. (In no way taking a shot at Georgetown)
5. Who needs this win more, Georgetown or Xavier?
JB: Without a shadow of a doubt it is Xavier. Xavier has a chance to get their first win against a top 50 kenpom team, and against a ranked opponent. Come selection sunday this will be a huge win since Georgetown seems to be a team that will be ranked many times the rest of the way. People already know how good this Georgetown team is. They beat what should be a ranked Indiana team, a formerly ranked Florida team, and lost by three points to Wisconsin and five points to Kansas. Xavier needs to prove they are a legit tournament caliber team, and that starts tonight against the #25 ranked Georgetown Hoyas.
SM: I think Xavier needs this win more. If they can't beat Georgetown at home there is very slim chance they even out the season series vs. Georgetown since going into D.C. and beating the Hoyas is a very daunting task.