NC State vs. Xavier preview: Be kind this time, Dayton

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier @ StatSheet
2014 Stats
2014 Roster
2014 Schedule

Xavier Offense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 51.9 71
Turnover Rate 18.7 199
Off Reb Rate 34.1 86
FT Rate
42.0 122

Xavier ranks 37th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, and the Musketeers ranked fourth during Big East play with an average of about 1.09 points per trip. As you can see, they shoot pretty well, which is complemented by their above-average offensive rebounding.

But there are a few questions here, mainly thanks to injuries. Junior big man Matt Stainbrook, who has been a significant part of the Xavier offense, sprained an MCL just a couple of weeks ago. That injury only cost him one game, but he's been limited since, logging a total of 24 minutes in two Big East tournament games.

He will play Tuesday, though it seems clear he won't be at 100%, and that could have a considerable impact on the Musketeers' fortunes. Then again, Xavier averaged more than 1.1 points per possession in both conference tourney games, so it might not matter at all.

Guard Dee Davis pulled a groin last Thursday but still managed to come back the next day and play 39 minutes in a loss to Creighton.

Even if those guys aren't contributing at their typical levels, Semaj Christon is plenty capable of carrying the offense.

Starters

Dee Davis (6-0, 161) -- The junior is having his most efficient season, with career-highs in free throw percentage (84.2), 2FG% (43.3), and 3FG% (37.3). That two-point accuracy (or lack thereof) is typical, but he's been a stable 37% outside shooter over the last two seasons, which is probably what State needs to be most worried about.

Semaj Christon (6-3, 190) -- Christon has just enough range to keep defenses honest, but he wants to do most of his scoring off the dribble--362 of his 409 field goal attempts have come from inside the three-point line. Dude has a knack for getting to the free throw line, which is something to keep an eye on. The good news is that Christon is hitting only 67% of his freebies.

Justin Martin (6-6, 205) -- Having seen little of a certain guy, it's often difficult to interpret some new-found strong point, like, in this case, three-point shooting. Martin was at 31.7% in limited time as a freshman, 29.4% in a more regular role as a sophomore, and 39.1% this season. The latter also comes with a career-high 128 three-point attempts, and on paper it makes him the biggest outside threat for a Xavier team that doesn't like to take a lot of threes. About half his shots come from three.

Isaiah Philmore (6-8, 230) -- Philmore should be a secondary option Tuesday, but between his 55.8 2FG%, good offensive rebounding, ability to draw fouls, and 70.5% free throw shooting, he can cause problems.

Matt Stainbrook (6-10, 263) -- You can't help to love a kid like Stainbrook, but as totally biased observers Tuesday night, prepare yourselves to hate him. He is a bit turnover-prone, but he more than makes up for that deficiency with his excellent offensive and defensive rebounding, as well as his 55.6% two-point shooting. Tough assignment for Jordan Vandenberg right off the bat, though again, we don't know how limited Stainbrook might be by the MCL.

Bench

Myles Davis (6-2, 195), Jalen Reynolds (6-9, 222), James Farr (6-9, 237), Brandon Randolph (6-1, 190), Erik Stenger (6-8, 207). While Xavier is right around the I-A average in bench minutes, the rotation can shorten considerably depending on the circumstances. With a trio of freshmen (Davis, Reynolds, Randolph), one sophomore (Farr), and a low-usage senior (Stenger) in the mix, that's not surprising.

There will be pressure on Davis, who will be the primary relief at the guard spot, and Reynolds, who has been starting since Stainbrook's injury. Randolph and Stenger barely played during the conference tournament, logging about eight minutes between them over two games.

Reynolds and Farr both are exceptional offensive rebounders, and if Reynolds had enough minutes to qualify, he'd rank eighth nationally in OR%. Both guys are hitting well over half their twos and they'll bother some shots, too.

Davis' offense is mostly limited to the perimeter--he has attempted 121 threes (and made 33.9% of 'em), while taking just 37 twos (where he's been only a smidge more accurate).

Xavier Defense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 49.1 143
Turnover Rate 17.0 254
Off Reb Rate 28.8 54
FT Rate
39.8 158

Oh, you best believe there will be zone. We're all grizzled veterans of numerous zone-laden wars at this point in the season, though, and I kinda feel like T.J. Warren enjoys these defenses since he can find creases into floater range. (I mean, he'll do that against whatever defense, but still.)

Zone doesn't figure to be a defense the Musketeers run exclusively, but if State is on a roll against their man-to-man, I wouldn't expect the adjustment to take long.

There's really nothing that jumps off the page statistically save their top-35 free throw defense and top-60 defensive rebounding. The Musketeers rank 114th in 2FG% defense and haven't been particularly disruptive, ranking 224th in block percentage.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Xavier by four. (KP considers this a "semi-home" game for Xavier, which is a factor in that margin.)

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