The Wake Forest Demon Deacons take on the #20 Xavier Musketeers tonight at 8 p.m. In anticipation of tonight’s big game, I was able to catch up with Caleb Childers of Banners on the Parkway, who was kind enough to answer my questions. You can follow him on Twitter @CalebBOTP.
Blogger So Dear (BSD): Xavier enters this contest with an 8-2 record and is ranked 20th in Ken Pom. How does this compare to preseason expectations?
Banners On The Parkway (BP): It’s a weird mix of joy and content. This team has underperformed in so many games so far, and many of us are wishing we could have closed out against Baylor and Colorado to be 10-0. Going into the season we were ranked top 10, so it’s definitely been a roller coaster ride, but X fans are happy that we are 8-2 at this point with a few quality non-conference wins.
BSD: Xavier is a talented team, but is 323rd nationally in bench minutes. Do you expect that to be a factor in this contest?
BP: Absolutely. Xavier’s two losses (and the mizzou game that we never want to speak of again) came in games that one or more of our stars fell flat, and the bench could not back us up. Luckily, Edmond Summner is plenty talented eventually has to turn into the stone cold shooter that he was last season.
We have plenty of young guys on the bench, so I see our bench being stronger as the season goes on, but for a game in December I do not see many players outside of O’Mara and Jones to make a big impact.
BSD: How do you believe that Xavier will attempt to defend John Collins?
BP: With magic? With bribery? With a surprise reappearance by Drew Lavender? Honestly dude, Collins scares me. I think Xavier is going to put RaShid Gaston on him the entire game. He’s great around the glass and will give John Collins fits, but he’s a touch smaller so that could be tough. Previously Xavier had Jalen Reynolds to be a monster in the paint, and Gaston is a step down this year. He’s a really good player, and has definitely made a big impact this year, but he’s not quite Reynolds from last year or Collins this year so we’ll see how this matchup goes.
BSD: X is a very poor 3-point shooting team but still has a very efficient offense due to being excellent at crashing the offensive boards. Do you think you can sustain high level offense with poor shooting?
BP: Xavier is weird behind the arc this year. JP Macura can really light it up some nights, but Edmond Sumner has not quite been himself this year. I think our shooting funk will end soon and hopefully that happens before we enter Big East play. Weirdly enough, in the Mizzou game we did not make a shot from outside 10 feet for almost the entire second half and all of overtime. Sometimes our offense is ugly, but I would expect that to change with Macura, Sumner, and Trevon Bluiett.
BSD: Finally, what's your prediction in this one?
BP: It’s a home game for Xavier, so I think Wake will make it extremely tight for 38 minutes but Xavier will hold on. 77-70.