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Wake Forest vs. Xavier Preview: Q&A With Banners On The Parkway

Many thanks to Caleb Childers for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Blogger So Dear (BSD): Xavier is currently ranked #10 in the country, and 8th in Ken Pom. Xavier has had some very strong teams over the years. I know it's early, but where do you think this team ranks compared to other Xavier teams of the past 10-15 years? What's the ceiling for this team?

Banners on the Parkway (BP): This Xavier team might just be the best Xavier team of the last 15 years. The 2011-2012 team was really strong and was a top 10 team just before Christmas, but this years team is playing on a whole different level. The 11-0 start is the best in program history and we’ve got a few solid wins already.

As far as the ceiling, I’m not entirely sure anymore. Going into every season the expectation is to reach the Sweet 16, but this team honestly might just be a Final 4 team if the tournament plays out right. Xavier has never been to the Final 4, so it would absolutely be a historic season. Too early to tell, but we’re all excited right now.

BSD: Xavier has won every game by at least 9 points., and many have been by more than that. On the surface it appears that they don't have many weaknesses. Where do you think Xavier is most vulnerable?

BP: One of our biggest issues comes down to one player. Jalen Reynolds is a phenomenal talent who’s great on both offense and defense, but the dude picks up fouls so fast. It’s not uncommon for him to have two fouls within five minutes and spend half the first half on the bench. When Reynolds is on the court he’s an absolute monster to watch out for, but he hasn’t played nearly enough because he’s always in foul trouble.

BSD: How good is Trevon Bluiett, and is there a way to stop him?

BP: Trevon is a very talented player. He’s got a sweet jump shot and can put up big numbers.

Is there any way to stop him on offense? That’s tough. This years Xavier team is balanced, so often times Trevon takes a step back and let’s James Farr or Remy Abell take over. The biggest weakness that I see with Bluiett right now is his defense. He’s definitely improved a lot since his freshman year, but it’s still a work in progress and guy’s can often get by him.

BSD: Do you have a good Skip Prosser story or memory? If you don't, what are your thoughts on this series in general? Do you believe the Skip Prosser Classic should be played each year?

BP:  Sadly I am a bit too young to remember Skip’s Xavier years. Everything that I have heard about him has been extremely positive and everyone talks about how great of a person he was and how he really made himself a part of the Xavier community. That’s something that we all see now and love with Coach Mack, and I always enjoy hearing positive things about a former coach.

Now for the Skip Prosser Classic. I absolutely think this game should be played and preferably each year, and for two reasons. First, Skip was an incredible guy and left a lasting memory. As I mentioned, I was not a Xavier student until after his time at Xavier, but I heard a whole lot more about him then I did about his replacement Thad Matta. Having a game that honors his legacy between the two schools that he coached for a while at (excluding his Loyola year) is the right thing to do. Second, this game is good for both Xavier and Wake Forest’s out of conference schedule. Both teams tend to be strong and having matchups like this are good for RPI and the tournament resume. Plus, good basketball is awesome, so why not have more of it?

BSD: Finally how do you think this game plays out?

BP: I’m expecting this to be a really good game. Both teams play a strong kind of basketball so I think it’s going to be a close game. I see Xavier winning this one 77-70 on the road.

Again, many thanks to Caleb Childers for taking the time to answer our questions. For all things Xavier, be sure to check out Banners on the Parkway.