Atlantic 10 Conference (24-8, 14-2)
Big Wins: 12/13 Cincinnati (83-79), 2/28 Richmond (78-76), 3/12 vs Dayton (78-73)
Bad Losses: 11/26 vs Marquette (61-71), 1/3 at Wake Forest (92-96), 2/6 at Dayton (65-90)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, Sweet Sixteen loss to Pittsburgh
Coach: Chris Mack (First NCAA appearance)
Why They Can Surprise:
This is not as explosive of a team as Xavier has had over the last few years, but a great inside/outside duo has emerged with Jordan Crawford and Jason Love. Crawford is the superstar of this team and any postseason success Xavier has will be on his shoulders. Crawford is a superb outside shooter and knocks down 39.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. But to average 19.7 points per game, Crawford has to do more than just shoot. And the 6-4 guard does a lot more. He will use his size and quickness to attack the basket effectively and he almost always excels in transition.
Love was a roleplayer throughout much of his career with the Musketeers, but that has changed for his senior season. The 6-9 center is averaging 11.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. His presence in the paint has made a huge difference and has created space for the shooters and the slashers on the team.
Why They Can Disappoint:
With the departure of C.J. Anderson, Derrick Brown and B.J. Raymond, the Musketeers have struggled to find quality replacements. Obviously Crawford has stepped up his game to help fill the void, but there is no high flying star like Brown or all-around scorers like Anderson or Raymond on the roster. Mark Lyons has done an admirable job trying to fill the void and he can get to the basket and finish, but he is not a huge scoring threat. Brad Redford, another guard, gives the team a much needed shooting threat off the bench, but he rarely attacks the basket. Jamel McLean has stepped into the starting power forward position. He has had some quality games and is a very good rebounder, but when being unfairly compared to Brown, he cannot compete.
Who To Watch:
That has forced Xavier to play a couple ballhandlers, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Sophomore Terrell Holloway will be a star in the coming years. For now he is doing a pretty darn good job of running the show anyway. He is averaging an impressive 3.9 assists and just 1.9 turnovers. He is even averaging 11.8 points per game. However, his outside shooting is not very good and once he can consistently knock down the three-pointer, he will be one of the best players in the Atlantic 10. The lack of options on the wing has pretty much forced Dante Jackson into the starting lineup. However, he is a great glue guy. He can handle the ball, hit the long shot, use his 6-4 frame to grab some rebounds and play great defense. His offense is pretty much non-existent besides the occasional three-pointer and Jackson needs to be more aggressive getting to the rim.
Terrell Holloway, Sophomore, Guard, 11.8 ppg, 3.9 apg
Jordan Crawford, Sophomore, Guard, 19.7 ppg, 2.9 apg, 4.8 rpg
Dante Jackson, Junior, Guard, 6.2 ppg, 2.3 apg
Jamel McLean, Junior, Forward, 8.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg
Jason Love, Senior, Center, 11.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg
Kenny Frease, Sophomore, Center, 5.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Mark Lyons, Freshman, Guard, 8.4 ppg, 2.1 apg
Brad Redford, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 ppg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.9 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.3 (181, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.0 (36, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.8 (60, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (74, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.7 (44, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.8 (111, 3)
Rebound Margin: 5.4 (24, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.7 (56, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.1 (119, 5)
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