Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go
Line: Xavier -16.5
All-Time Record: 1-1, Last year’s meeting Colorado 68-66
Xavier will be seeing a new-look Colorado team that doesn’t include either of its two top scorers in the game from a year ago. Leading the charge for the Buffs is freshman guard McKinley Wright IV. Wright leads the team in points per game with 15.6 and also averages 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Another top scorer for the Buffs is George King. King, in the matchup last year, collected a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. This year, he is Colorado’s second-leading scorer averaging 14.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
What to Watch For
Defending smaller guards
Arizona State exposed Xavier’s biggest defensive shortcoming, which is the ability to defend smaller guards. However, the Musketeers were able to tame a shiftier guard in Manu Lecomte of Baylor, holding him to just 11 points. Today, they face another offensive-threat guard in Wright IV, which has the potential to pose a challenge defensively. Luckily, he will most likely be defended by Quentin Goodin, who is easily the best on-ball defender Xavier has. Goodin has a solid four inches on Wright, so that should be advantageous to the Musketeers offense with Goodin, an aggressive rim attacker who either finishes or dishes out a Big-East leading 6.3 assists to shooters on the perimeter.
Will the offensive efficiency continue?
From the onset, Xavier seems to have one huge advantage over the Buffs, and that is average points per game scored. The Musketeers average 90 points per game in comparison to the Buffs, who only average 76 points per game. Xavier remains to be one of the top offenses in the country, being ranked 3rd in that category on the KENPOM in addition to having the second most efficient offense shooting a flat 54 percent on the year from the floor.
What will we see out of J.P. Macura?
Macura wasn’t as productive offensively as he normally is over the past two games, but anyone who watches Xavier basketball knows his meaning to the team goes far beyond just the amount of points he scores. Even without scoring, the Musketeers can count on him to provide a jolt of energy on the defensive side of the ball. Undoubtedly, he is an integral part of this squad and with both him and Trevon Bluiett on a tear, the Musketeers truly have a one-two punch.
A win in today’s game would hold a bright future for the Musketeers. They could easily win out and head into the Big East season with just one loss and perhaps a Top 10 ranking. This matchup against Colorado won’t be an easy win, but it should be Xavier’s game to take.