Villanova's all-time series against Xavier dates back to their first meeting on February 20, 1952, a game that the Wildcats won 93-74. Nova has won 13 of the last 16 meetings, dating back to 1963, losing their most recent game in November 2006, 66-71. In 20 games all-time, the Musketeers have won just four meetings with Villanova.
Jay Wright has never coached a team to a victory over Xavier, however, but has not coached against current Xavier head coach Chris Mack, but tallied both losses against his predecessor, Sean Miller -- who is now the coach for the University of Arizona.
Other than a terrible trip to the Bahamas, where they lost all three games, including a narrow loss to Iowa in the opener, Xavier looked pretty good in non-conference play. They were 11-3 as they entered the new year and started conference play with three straight victories before finally suffering a loss at Creighton.
Their last two games haven't been what they hoped for, however; a nine-point loss on the road at Providence stung, and an eight point loss to Seton Hall at home was certainly not what the Musketeers would have expected. Those losses hurt, but the Musketeers are still a likely NCAA tournament team this season with KenPom.com projecting a 20-win regular season and a pretty good RPI score.
They are an efficient offense, but allow opponents to score about a point per possession. Their defense has allowed opponents plenty of room to do damage on the perimeter, but has been more effective inside the paint. That plays into Villanova's game-plan, which still revolves around taking about 45% of their shots from 3-point range. Of course, that plan is at its most-effective when the 'Cats are making most of those shots -- they average 35.2% from deep.
Villanova, meanwhile, has the same weakness on defense, but the Musketeers don't have a quick trigger outside, taking just 26.4% of their field goal attempts outside the arc. They make 36.1% of those attempts.
Xavier recently suspended freshman Jalen Reynolds for failure to fulfill his non-basketball duties, but as a reserve player off the bench, the biggest loss with Reynolds out is for depth when forwards Matt Stainbrook (10.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Isaiah Philmore get dinged for foul trouble.
Semaj Christon did not miss a game after suffering a toe injury against Providence. He is averaging 21.1 points in conference games and 17.1 points per contest overall. The 6-3 guard has been one of the Musketeer's key offensive players, and Villanova will have to find a plan to stop him. He is making over 46% of his attempts from 3-point, and averages 4 assists and just under 3 rebounds per game. Christon uses 26% of his team's possessions.
Xavier's ballhandlers have a combined 2.44 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play.
Chris Mack inherited the Xavier coach's seat from Sean Miller in April 2009, after serving as an assistant coach to Miller since 2004. Mack was born-and-bred in Ohio, graduating from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati and graduated from Xavier University in 1993 after starting his college basketball career at the University of Evansville.
Xavier is Mack's first college head-coaching job, but the Musketeers' chief spent a decade as a college assistant. Other than a brief stint at Wake Forest from 2001-2004, he has done his college coaching at his alma mater. Prior to that, he coached Junior Varsity and Varsity basketball at the high school level from 1993 until 1999.
He is 90-44 (.672) all-time as a head coach, with a 49-16 (.752) record in conference games -- mostly in the Atlantic 10 conference.
Xavier boasts a few notable alumni, including House Speaker John Boehner and former US Senator Jim Bunning. They also boast actor Robert Romanus, who played ticket scalper Mike Damone in the classic teen comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sopranos actor Richard Romanus, and WWE star Ryan Nemeth.
Also, in a potentially-embarassing fact for fans of former A-10 rivals University of Dayton, the Musketeers can count Dayton Mayer Rhine McLin as one of their own.