1. The Jacob Evans / Trevon Bluiett matchup
The playmakers can hold their own as either a guard or forward with their 6-foot-6 frames. The two will see a lot of each other on Saturday afternoon, as they will mostly be guarding each other. Last year, Bluiett produced one of the best games in Xavier history, as he poured in 40 points on 12-of-15 shooting. Evans is currently averaging 11.7 points and 4.3 assists per game. Both are projected to be taken in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft and should create an epic matchup at the college level.
2. Can Jarron Cumberland have another break out game against Xavier?
Jarron Cumberland was seen as a solid freshman sixth man last year leading up to the Xavier game, averaging six points and three rebounds per game. However, he had a breakout game during the win against the Musketeers with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Now a key starter for UC who averages 11 points and 4.4 rebounds, can Cumberland provide the same spark as last year?
3. Does Xavier have anyone inside to stop Gary “The Problem” Clark?
The senior forward was named the American Athletic Conference player of the week for his performance in UC’s championship run at the Cayman Island Classic last week, in which he was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Against the University of Buffalo, he produced one of the best games of his career, as he posted 24 points and 14 rebounds. Xavier has experience in their backcourt with Bluiett and J.P. Macura, but lacks it in the frontcourt. Does Gary Clark continue to be a problem?
4. UC’s first test against a ranked opponent
Although the Bearcats are ranked 11th in the country, they have not gone head-to-head against another nationally ranked team yet. Their opponents combined records are 13-40. No. 21 Xavier provides UC with their first real test, as they rolled through opponents by an average margin of victory of 31 points through seven games. The next two weeks will tell us just how strong this UC team is, as they face XU, Mississippi State, UCLA and No. 6 Florida.
5. Can Kyle Washington return to his dominant play?
The 6-foot-9 forward was dominant in the paint for UC last year, averaging nearly 13 points and seven rebounds. However, he has only scored double-digits in four of the first seven games. If Kyle Washington can return to his imposing play of last season, the frontcourt duo of him and Clark can prove to be overpowering.