Xaxier is the lone A-10 team still alive (outside of UMass in the NIT) and they have used furious comebacks to be victorious in their two NCAA Tournament games so far. They have reached the Sweet 16 three out of the last four years and senior big man Kenny Frease doesn’t know why they lose when they get there. “We can’t just be happy to be there,” he said in a postgame interview following the win over Lehigh.
In the Sweet 16, the Musketeers will be facing Baylor and their highlighter yellow uniforms (which makes them tough to watch). The Bears are very athletic but very hard to figure out. In their two NCAA Tournament wins, Baylor had little offensive help from their big men. It had been all guard play, especially from sharp-shooter Brady Heslip (44 points on 14-of-22 shooting from beyond the arc). On the season, Heslip is a 43.8% shooter from downtown.
I believe the winner of this game will have the most production from the bigs because both teams have good guard play (Heslip and Pierre Jackson for Baylor and Tu Holloway and Marc Lyons for Xavier). Xavier big man Kenny Frease put together a career night in their win over Lehigh. The senior will need another night like that against Baylor (and he will need to stay out of foul trouble). But Frease needs some help from guys like Andre Walker, Justin Martin, and Jeff Robinson, who are more athletic and may be able to contain the bigs for Baylor.
Will Perry Jones III please step up? He has been non-existent for Baylor in the tournament (just nine total points), but he will need to show up for the Bears to advance. During the regular season, Jones averaged 13.6 points per game and 7.8 rebounds a game.
Dez Wells could be the x-factor for the Musketeers if he is healthy. He injured his big toe and only played eight minutes against Lehigh. He has yet to practice, but he plans on playing Friday night. Wells is the Musketeers third-leading scorer.
You can catch the game live on CBS at 7:15pm ET on Friday (if your eyes can handle the brightness).
**For more from a BIG XII standpoint, check out Amanda’s preview HERE.