As we typically do at Bucky's 5th Quarter before each game against a new opponent, we try to bring our readers some insights from the opponent's point of view. Today, Curt caught up with Caleb Childers, who writes for the Xavier basketball blog Banners On The Parkway.
B5Q (Curt): Watching Xavier beat Weber State, looking over some box scores from the season and from seeing them on TV this year, it seems that physicality is important to this team. Is that true, and, if so, how does Wisconsin need to hedge that?
Banners on the Parkway (Caleb): Xavier has Jalen Reynolds and James Farr under the basket, and they both play extremely physical games. The entire team is physical and plays tough, Big East basketball, and Reynolds along with Farr perfectly show this. Xavier makes other teams work to get points in the paint, and plays tough D. Of course, we tend to give up a lot of three-pointers, but our 1-3-1 defense is miles better then our defense was the last few years. Having a season-high in made three-pointers is the best way that Wisconsin can get around that, and that is exactly what Georgetown did in their win over us back in January. I'd prefer not to relive that night though, so shhhhhh.
B5Q: Xavier shoots over 36 percent from deep as a team, led by Trevon Bluiett and Myles Davis. Are they prone to get three-point reliant at times? And how will they counter a Wisconsin team that limits its opponent's three point attempts?
BOTP: I think Xavier has a pretty balanced offense, but we do love the 3 ball. That backfired tremendously in our regular season loss against Seton Hall, but for the most part I think we've got pretty balanced scoring and James Farr is a huge part of our offense. Each year he's taken on a bigger and bigger role, and the big guy has been collecting double-doubles all season long. Having Farr and Reynolds is going to come in handy for X, and I think we're going to use them until Reynolds gets four fouls. That could be late in the game or that could be in the first half. But hopefully we don't see that come true.
B5Q: Xavier plays a lot of guards. How can the Badgers exploit that?
BOTP: Xavier is a quick and athletic team, so you need to have fast guys on the court to match them. The teams that have beaten us have played an up-tempo offense. One of the most terrifying moments of the season was the conference semifinal with Seton Hall. At one point in the game I think 16 points were scored between them in just two minutes and it hit me that Seton Hall plays our style and in that moment, were just as good as us. If you're quick and physical, it's going to be a tough game for us.
More 'little things' needed to win vs. Xavier
Wisconsin's performance against Pitt was not pleasant to the eye. What won the game was doing what forward Nigel Hayes calls "the little things."
B5Q: Bluiett leads the team with 15.3 points per game, but there are five other Musketeers averaging over nine points per game. What does that balanced attack do to opponents?
BOTP: Well, it destroys them. Xavier has 7 guys that I love seeing on the court. That kind of depth is new for us, and we're absolutely living it up. JP Macura is an monster on the court and won Big East Sixth Man of the Year this season. James Farr is actually not a starter and is much needed relief off the bench. Shoot, there's even two more guys that I don't mind seeing come on the court in Kaiser Gates and Larry Austin Jr. To put it simply, Xavier has a ridiculous depth to them, which makes it very difficult for opponents to lock in on one guy. If Wisconsin heavily guards Bluiett, then Sumner will have a career game, and the cycle continues.
B5Q: What's the recipe to beating Xavier?
BOTP: 1 cup Shoot tons of 3s, 5 cups of get Jalen Reynolds in foul trouble early, 1 tbps be fast, 1/2 cup shrewd coaching, and 2 cups Team leader playing out of his mind. Bake for 40 minutes, making sure it melts into a technical foul ref show that grinds things to a halt by the 35th minute, and take out a victory.
B5Q: Score prediction?
BOTP: Xavier 70, Wisconsin 60