Villanova Wildcats is hosting Xavier Musketeers on Wednesday evening in what looks like one of the best Big East games of the week. Xavier sports an 11-5 record overall but is just 2-2 in the Big East.
To learn more about what to expect, we chatted with WestCoastd'Artagnan from Banners On The Parkway, SB Nation's Xavier blog. Make sure to head over there to catch my return half of our exchange.
1. What do you make of the Muskies thus far? There are some good wins (Alabama, Georgetown, Seton Hall) but the performance at the Wooden Legacy sticks out and there's that loss to DePaul...
Well I have to admit that the loss to DePaul was starting to look not as bad, but the butt kicking that y'all gave them is making me rethink that. This Xavier team is loads of fun to watch. They shoot the ball a lot and have a solid bench that we have not seen in years. At times they are very frustrating to watch, but I honestly have to admit that this year's team is significantly more fun to watch then last year's team was. Some of the losses have been downright brutal, but I feel like this team is going to hit it's stride come March.
2. As impressive as Trevon Bluiett has been, we don't hear much about him in the media. What can Villanova fans expect out of the star freshman on Wednesday night?
Bluiett has been great this season, so it has been surprising that he has not gotten much attention. He is leading the team in points per game this year (12.8) and he's on the court for much of the ball game. All season long he's been a vital part of the team, and when he's hot, it shows. Even though we lost, he went off for 19 points in the second half against DePaul. Bluiett tends to slide in between the 3 and 4 role so watch for him down low. I do have to say that I somewhat enjoy how little the media is talking about him, because he is our best kept secret.
3. Other than Bluiett and Matt Stainbrook, what other players could have a big impact on the game for Xavier?
Remy Abell is a vital part of our team to watch out for. This is his first year playing for Xavier as he was a transfer from Indiana, and he's come up big all season. He does not put up the points that Bluiett does, but Abell is possibly the most steady defensive player that we have and is consistent night in and night out. Dee Davis, our point guard, is another player to watch out for if he shows up and has a big night.
4. Speaking of that behemoth, how's the Stain Train doing? We're big fans.
The Stain Train is busy picking up the passengers and picking up the boards. he's averaging 7 rebounds a night and often times leads the team in scoring. Everyone is in love with him this season and it's hard not to be. He's a nice guy who has a goofy side and a big heart. What's not to like? I'm absolutely going to miss him.
5. Xavier and Villanova are very similar in that they possess great depth and have a balanced offensive approach. What's holding the Muskies back from being a Top 25 team?
I may have just shed a tear reading that question. Xavier absolutely shows flashes of being a top 25 team. The two biggest things that separate Xavier from a team like Villanova is defense, road play, and Jay Wright's suit game. Ok, that's three things, but the suit game is important. Xavier has been weak on defense all season long. They have been downright impressive on offense and that's made up for the shaky D in some games, but when they're not on their A game it becomes a complete disaster. Another angle to that is road games. Xavier has not lost at home so far this year and have a tendency to completely collapse late in a road game. I 'm not sure exactly what it is, but being away from the Cintas does them no favors. If Xavier improved on these two fronts, this team would be having a much different season. That being said, I am an optimist about this squad and I feel like this road blues is going to come to an end soon.