It may be one of the final NFL Sundays of the season, but if you’re reading this, you’ll make time for some Hoops in between the Bears going extinct to the team from New Orleans.
Providence Friars (7-4) Xavier Musketeers (9-2)
Xavier has lost two of the last three games in the Big East. They did defeat St John’s earlier this week to break the losing streak.
Paul Scruggs & Zach Freemantle struggled against the Red Storm, but that allowed for Jason Carter, Bryan Griffin, and Colby Jones to throw out big performances. Xavier will need a big performance from Zach Freemantle on both ends against Nate Watson. Those two players are polar opposites, Watson is a strong back to the basket big-man, and Freemantle is more of a finesse player that can score from anywhere on the floor. Who does that favor? In some ways, Freemantle, if you can get Watson on the perimeter to score, drive on him with your finesse and speed. Watson can get Freemantle in foul-trouble with his strength, though Bryan Griffin may become a vital piece in this game with his defense. When going, the Xavier offense is one of the better offenses in the Big East. To go it flowing to full potential, Paul Scruggs needs to be more aggressive; Scruggs is hard to stop when driving to the basket but is too assertive at times. Adam Kunkel, since his Marquette game-winner, has become invisible. Kunkel is a knockdown shooter like we all saw during his time at Belmont. However, he’s 5-20 from three this season; Kunkel needs to get the ball more.
Jason Carter catches far more flak than he deserves from the Xavier Faithful. Carter is a good defender who plays hard and can score inside but isn’t much of a shooter from deep, although he continues shooting them. Carter will be a tough matchup for both Greg Gantt and Noah Horchler, the Friars’ power forwards. If the Musketeers want to hold serve at home, you need to force Providence to shoot threes; as a team, Providence shoots an astronomically bad 28.6 from three. David Duke Jr is the only consistent shooter on the roster, however when A.J. Reeves gets it going, he’s a tough player to stop, but he’s one of the more inconsistent players you’ll find.
With the Friars, it’s easy to figure out how they win and how they lose. The Friars need David Duke Jr to shoot the ball from deep consistently, and Nate Watson establishes himself inside. Ed Cooley doesn’t have a clear third option, A.J. Reeves is the ideal option, but when he’s struggling, he is struggling. So, where does that leave you? Having to need something from Greg Gantt, Noah Horchler, and Jimmy Nichols needing to throw up points. Jared Bynum plays a ton, but he’s 2-28 from three, a below-average defender, and doesn’t add a lot besides passing. Providence was hot on the road early with wins against Seton Hall and TCU, though recently they’ve lost their most recent game against Butler.
Keys to the game:
Providence needs to shoot the ball from three; if A.J. Reeves is missing, it’ll be tough for Providence to win.
Freemantle must stay on the floor. If Freemantle is in foul trouble, you lose a ton from the team.
Players to watch:
Providence: A.J. Reeves
Xavier: Adam Kunkel
Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-3) Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2)
We know what Iowa is still, a subpar defensive team that can score on anybody with ease. The Hawkeyes have won every home game by double figures in 2020-21 and have dominated fashion. We did see some flashes from Iowa’s defense in the 2nd half against Maryland. Keegan Murray, coming on the floor, going into Zone made Iowa’s defense look somewhat formidable, active hands, and Murray used his elite athleticism to make life tough for the opposing team’s opposing ball-handlers. It seems like we’ll see C.J. Fredrick is smaller spurts from here-on-out with his defensive struggles; having Fredrick play when losing or early in the game seems like the plan. Fredrick is a poor defender; having him on the floor with a lead could be detrimental. Luka Garza dominates everybody I’m not sure what needs to be said that hasn’t already been said. Garza was somewhat contained early in the first game against Minnesota with post-traps that forced Garza to throw up low-percentage shots. In that first matchup, the Gophers needed Brandon Johnson to hit eight three-pointers to win. What has Johnson done since? Since the Iowa game, Johnson is 1-9 from three with 25 total points in four games. That anomaly won’t happen again. You need Marcus Carr to show his takeover ability in this one; the star guard has scuffled recently for Minnesota. It’s also worth noting that the Gophers have been destroyed in every conference road game they’ve played, losing by 27, 12, and 25.
Keys to the game:
Minnesota needs to find a way to contain Luka Garza. In Carver-Hawkeye, you lose if you don’t stop Garza.
Iowa needs to stick with the defense that worked. Play Murray, run zone.
Players to watch:
Minnesota: Marcus Carr
Iowa: Keegan Murray