The Providence Friars travel to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier Musketeers on Wednesday night at the Cintas Center. Xavier has already defeated Providence at the Dunkin' Donuts Center this season and the Musketeers lead the all-time series, 5-3. The Friars will be looking for their first win over Xavier in Cincinnati as they carry an 0-4 record against the Musketeers in the Queen City. Caleb Childers of Xavier's SB Nation site Banners on the Parkway was kind enough to engage me in a Q&A to help preview this matchup. You can read my responses to his questions here.
Mike Hopkins: Jalen Reynolds has been playing better lately, but he still lacks the consistency that you would want to see from a junior and team leader. What's your take on Reynolds and his lack of consistency?
Caleb Childers: Reynolds is definitely a frustrating case. He has so much talent and he makes an impact in each game, but sadly that impact is sometimes that he has to sit out substantial minutes. It's a given that he's going to get at least three fouls each game, and the odds are he will have two fouls before halftime. I think he's a huge piece of this team, and having him come up big in crucial moments late in the game is a part of why he is so important. I've yet to see anyone this year truly beat him on the boards for the entire game, and when he's hot, he's hot. Jalen Reynolds is a phenomenal talent, but we've come to expect that he will get dumb fouls called on him and is not going to be the leader of this team.
MH: Has there been anything that has stood out from Xavier's 3 Big East losses? Is there one thing an opponent has done in those games or that Xavier has done in those game that has been a big factor in those losses?
CC: Great question. Villanova and Georgetown beat us because they played a ridiculous game from behind the arc. Both games they took a crazy number of 3s and made either a season high or close to it percentage of those shots. That was incredibly frustrating to watch, and my hope is we do not see the same on Wednesday. As for Creighton, Xavier came out flat and just never got it going that night. We only made one three pointer the whole night and struggled at the line. Our utter collapse lasted the entire game, and we were almost never within even 10 points of the Jays. So if you're looking for the recipe for beating Xavier, be incredible behind the arc and play a strong defense. But please do not do that until your game against Seton Hall.
MH: Make the case for Xavier to get a 1 seed on Selection Sunday.
CC: Here's my argument: Villanova deserves a one seed and so does Xavier, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Outside of the two powers of the Big 12, who has played better, and consistent, basketball then Xavier and Villanova? Xavier only has three loses, and is currently second place in a top four heavy Big East. Xavier has a loaded offense and has wreaked havoc on teams by having a balanced attack where almost anyone can step up on a given night. This year's Xavier team has the potential to go deep, and barring a meltdown is a Final Four team.......That being said, I fully expect a two seed, and I'm ok with that.
MH: The Xavier fans have already made themselves known to be some of the most rabid in the Big East with body and face painting and just general rowdiness. Has Xavier always had fans like this, or has the move to the Big East amplified the level of passion?
CC: Great question. Part of what has made Xavier basketball so special is the fans. You're going to see a ton of that on Wednesday night, but it's nothing new. The culture of the fanbase and team has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, but Xavier fans are always intense. It comes with not having a football team and no professional basketball team anywhere close. Now, the move to the Big East has added to it in my opinion. Xavier fans were always intense, but I feel that the Big East move has helped simply because playing Big East teams every night is so much more fun then playing St. Bonaventure on a Wednesday night. Our recruiting is better, the conference tournament is better, and the overall culture is better, so I think it has definitely energized Xavier fans to another level.
MH: Score prediction?