On one of college basketball's better early Saturdays, #9 Xavier (8-0) takes on Cincinnati (6-1) in a battle for Ohio supremacy. This was a great game last year, a defensive slugfest in which Xavier came out on top, 64-59. Expect nothing different from this annual battle for bragging rights in Ohio.
The Musketeers have a bunch of guys that contribute. BJ Raymond, Derrick Brown and CJ Anderson all played major roles last year for the Xavier team that advanced to the Elite Eight. Dante Jackson has stepped it up so far in his sophomore season, and is developing into a great defensive stopper. Jamel McLean and Jason Love have turned into Xavier's best rebounders. But the biggest splash has been made by a freshman, the point guard Terrell Holloway. He had some huge shoes to fill, being the replacement for the departed Drew Lavender. Statistically, Holloway has been decent, but he has played so well it is an injustice to base his performance on stats alone. I really like what he's been doing for this team. Not many saw the Musketeers as a Top 25 team this year, due to the departure of players like Lavender and Stanley Burrell. But there they are, sitting at number 9.
The Bearcats look to knock off Xavier at home, something they have done the last two times these teams have met at Shoemaker. Deonta Vaughn leads this team in scoring, but like the Musketeers, Cincy has many contributors, as is evident by the fact that they have 8 guys who dump in at least 5 a game. Perhaps the one player on whose Cincinnati's success hinges is sharpshooter Alvin Mitchell. The Bearcats one loss this year also happens to be the one game Mitchell did not make a three-pointer. Xavier will have a tough time getting rebounds against the inside tandem of Yancy Gates and Mike Williams.
Despite the seeming disparity between these two teams, you know this game is going to be close, simply because it's a rivalry, and it is always close. Last year's game didn't disappoint, and neither should this one. In the end, I see Xavier coming out on top by the slimmest of margins.
Winner: Xavier Margin: 1-4