Will we see any lineup changes for Xavier?
Chris Mack said the other day that some guys are going to lose playing time and others will gain playing time. Who exactly that may be?
Not sure exactly, but whatever Mack does to this team's lineups at different points in the game, I don't see much possibility for any difference. This team flat out cannot play defense. They are 118th in the nation defensively courtesy of KenPom, which is good for 8th in the conference just ahead of Creighton and DePaul. I imagine Mack will play freshman big Sean O'Mara tonight and maybe sprinkle freshmen guard Larry Austin Jr. in their as well. Both are still raw offensively, but could provide a spark on defense. Austin Jr. is quick like lightening and O'Mara is a big body that can prevent second chance opportunities by grapping rebounds down low. Don't expect any major changes in the lineup tonight, but don't be surprised if O'Mara and Austin Jr. get more playing time then they are used to.
Can 'Nova be beaten at the Pavilion?
Nova is currently 7-0 at the Pavilion and 3-0 at Wells Fargo Center, which is good for a 10-0 home record. The Wildcats are averaging 79 points a game when at the pavilion and are only giving up an average of 58 points. This sounds about right considering that Nova beat X last year in the pavilion 81-58. That is close to the average of a 21 point win there so far this year. In Big East play Villanova has beaten Butler and DePaul at the Pavilion, both by double digits.
They beat Butler 67-55 and DePaul on Saturday night 81-64, up by 30 points at one point. For the remaining four Big East teams that have yet to play at Villanova's on-campus arena, which includes Xavier, it will be a tall task to beat the Wildcats. I think Villanova will win their remaining four home games at the Pavilion, but I would love it if Xavier was somehow able to give the Cats a loss there tonight.
Matt Stainbrook versus Daniel Ochefu
The junior Ochefu is averaging 10 points and 8.7 boards per game. The senior Stainbrook is averaging 12.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Both are similar in stature, Ochefu is listed at 6-foot-11 and 245 pounds, while Stainbrook at 6-foot-10 and 263 pounds (I see him being more like 275 at the moment).
Obviously Ochefu is the better athlete, but Stainbrook is much more skillful and elegant down low in the post. In the four Big East games Villanova has played, Ochefu has been a bigger factor on the road, putting up 19 points and 24 boards at Seton Hall, and 13 points and 13 boards at St. John's.
At home against Butler, a great defensive and rebounding team, he got 10 points and grabbed 9 boards. In Saturday's home game versus DePaul he only scored 6 points and got 4 boards. For whatever reason, maybe because Villanova plays collectively better at home, Ochefu has not been as effective at home then on the road so far in Big East play. I expect Stainbrook to do well against Ochefu, as he has not played against a true center in the likes of "Stain Train" yet this season. It will be a fun battle to watch tonight between two of the premier big men in all of the Big East Conference.