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Behind Enemy Lines: Understanding Xavier through Banners On The Parkway

Our O-H-I-O friends give us the rundown on Xavier's first season in the Big East, and what to expect from them going forward.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Brad D from SB Nation's fabulous Xavier Muskeeters blog Banners On The Parkway was kind enough to reach out to me in advance of Thursday night's game in an effort to curate some fresh content for the masses. I answered some Villanova related questions so that Brad could easily articulate just how great we are, and he reciprocated below.

Enjoy, and feel free to head on over to BOTP to say hell to our Midwestern friends.

VU Hoops: With just one game left in Xavier's inaugural Big East season, what are your lasting impressions? What exceeded your expectations and what disappointed you?

Banners: It's hard to say that anything disappointed me. The entire experience has just been a clear step up from where we were. I'd say what exceeded expectations was the "any given Sunday" feel of each game. With the exception of Butler, there weren't games where I didn't see at least one way both teams could've won. DePaul was bad, but even they were better than the usual end of season teams we were seeing. Of course, that wasn't as exciting when we lost to Seton Hall right after knocking off Creighton.

VU Hoops: Will Semaj Christon stay another year or is he off to the NBA? If he stays should Xavier be considered the frontrunner for the conference title next season?

Banners: We actually just had this discussion as a group yesterday. Rajon Rondo plays in the NBA, so saying that Semaj couldn't go now and be successful would clearly be false. Semaj needs to work on his shooting. His quickness translates to the next level for sure, but it won't be the massive advantage (he tore apart an elite defender in Fuquan Edwin last night) he has now. Without that outside jumper, he's not a lottery pick. On the other hand, he could add that shot just as easily in the league and develop in the same way we've seen Paul George.

If he stays Xavier is absolutely loaded next year. So loaded, in fact, that the team is oversigned by two players currently. You can draw your own conclusions on what you think that means the coaching staff sees happening.

VU Hoops: What's the latest on Matt Stainbrook's injury? Also, how awesome/inappropriate is the nickname "Stain Train?"

Banners: The latest is that there is no latest yet. The school said last night that Matt would get an MRI, and it's been radio silence since then. I thought "Stain Train" was a little generic at first, honestly, but Matt loves it and the crowd has really gotten into it. I have no comment on how appropriate it is. I'll just say that in my mind, he's a train wearing goggles. That's it.

VU Hoops: Last time we met it did not go so well for you guys - what must Xavier do differently this time around?

Banners: Everything? Xavier's three point defense and slow starts on the road have been two of the team's major weaknesses this year. The last time these teams met, both of them were in evidence from the very start. At home X is 14-1, so that eliminates the road issue. The three point defense has looked a bit better since February, but that is the very definition of damning with faint praise. Xavier cannot allow Nova to shoot from deep. I know that is infinitely easier said than done, but that's the case. Teams are lifting over 20 threes against X with a regularity that is alarming. If Villanova does that, we lose.

VU Hoops: Let's pretend Dee Davis and Myles Davis are brothers. What WWE tag team do they compare most favorably to?

Banners: I actually don't know anything about the WWE. Is there a tag team where one of the guys in undersized, not terribly quick, and seems to lack a great deal in physical gifts but he gets by on just being as tough as nails and almost always coming up huge (Dee) while the other guy is obviously gifted and is unwilling to ever quit doing his one go-to move, even if it quit working about two months ago (Myles)?

Editor's Note: I'd go with the Basham Brothers, who were also actually not brothers, and who also got by despite a complete lack of style.

VU Hoops: Walk us through Xavier's impressive 2014 recruiting class.

Banners: It's the best in the history of the institution. Sean O'Mara is the lowest rated player and ESPN has him at a 74 and as the #35 player at his position (center) in the nation. JP Macura is a gunner who can fill it up from almost anywhere on the court. He has Wragge range, if not the size or goofy beard, but he'll dunk more in one game than Wragge has in his career. Makinde London is a 6'9" power forward who plays like the guard he was before his recent eight inch growth spurt.

Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett are the ESPN top 100 guys in this class. Sumner is a 6'3" point guard who is effective both going into traffic and shooting from outside. He's also up for Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan. Bluiett is a power guard who just flat scores in almost any way he feels led. He's the one from this class that will really make the difference for the program. He turned down offers from Arizona and UCLA to come to Xavier. Everyone but O'Mara is a tremendous shooter, and all five will contribute.

VU Hoops: Prediction for Thursday night?

Banners: If Stainbrook does not play, Xavier loses. If Stainbrook is limited, Xavier loses. I'll call it Villanova 81-68 Xavier. This team will go to the NCAAs, but Villanova is elite.