Texas vs. Xavier NCAA Basketball Prediction, Preview
Here is everything you need to know about Texas and Xavier in our Longhorns vs. Musketeers NCAA Tournament men’s basketball preview.
Midwest Region – Sweet 16
No. 2 Texas (28-8) vs. No. 3 Xavier (27-9)
Game Info: 8:45.m. CT, Friday, CBS, T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, Mo.
NCAA Tournament Results
Texas: def. Colgate, 81-61 (first round); def. Penn State, 71-66 (second round). Xavier: def. Kennesaw State, 72-67 (first round); def. Pitt, 84-73 (second round).
Winner gets: An Elite Eight game against the winner of No. 1 Houston and No. 5 Miami (FL) on Sunday.
Projected starting lineups
Texas: G Marcus Carr, G Tyrese Hunter, F Timmy Allen, F Dylan Disu, F Dillon Mitchell.
Xavier: G Souley Boum, G Adam Kunkel, G Colby Jones, F Jack Nunge, F Jerome Hunter.
Player to watch
F Dylan Disu: He’s come alive the past few weeks for Texas. He averaged 22.5 points and 10 rebounds in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, shooting 71 percent from the floor. In the win over Penn State, he put together his best game of the season, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He set the Texas NCAA Tournament record for most field goals made in a game (14), topping Kevin Durant.
But if you saw Disu at the Big 12 Tournament you weren’t blindsided by this. He was the Most Outstanding Player of that tournament. There, He averaged a team-best 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games, while shooting 74 percent from the floor. Right now, the Texas offense flows through him.
G Souley Boum: Xavier coach Sean Miller grabbed Boum out of the transfer portal after the guard decided to leave UT-El Paso. Oddly, one of his former head coaches at UTEP happened to be Texas interim head coach Rodney Terry. So Terry knows Boum is as clutch as they come. In two NCAA Tournament games Boum has 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in playing all but four minutes of those two games. Boum is also 13-for-14 at the free throw line.
For the season, he’s averaging 16.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He makes 40 percent of his 3-pointers and nearly 90 percent of his free throws. Whichever Texas defender draws Boum, he’ll have his hands full.
You know by now the story of Texas this season. In December, former coach Chris Beard was arrested on domestic violence charges and Texas cut ties with him shortly after. Terry, the former Fresno State and UTEP head coach, stepped in as interim coach. All he’s done is guided Texas to a second Big 12 Tournament title in three seasons and, more importantly, the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2008 under Rick Barnes (who just happened to be Terry’s boss at Texas for a decade).
While Disu is the team’s hottest player, Texas has two players that have more than 2,000 career points — guard Marcus Carr and forward Timmy Allen. There is also Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Sir’Jabari Rice, who is capable of hitting seven 3-pointers off the bench (ask Colgate about that). Texas is also considered one of the best defenses in the country.
This is just the sixth time that Xavier will face Texas all-time. Texas has a 3-2 lead in the series and the last two meetings have come in the Sweet 16 (it’s a 1-1) split. The Musketeers got hot at the end of the regular season and in the Big East Tournament, winning five straight before losing to Marquette in the league’s title game at Madison Square Garden. So, with its two NCAA Tournament wins, Xavier has won seven of its last eight games dating back to Feb. 24.
The Musketeers have a balanced scoring ledger, with five players averaging double figures, led by Boum. But, one of those players is forward Zach Freemantle (15.2 points, 8.1 rebounds), who had foot surgery in March and is out for the season. Colby Jones (15 points), forward Jack Nunge (14.1 points, 7.7 rebounds) and guard Adam Kunkel (10.6 points) are the other players scoring in double figures and all start. Xavier brings a lot of firepower to the party, but not a lot of depth.
Texas 75, Xavier 71
The injury to Freemantle hurts Xavier from a depth perspective. It hasn’t hurt the Musketeers yet in the NCAA Tournament, but Texas has the defense to exploit it. That defense can also slow down the Musketeers’ transition offense. Xavier must find a way to slow down Disu, which only gives Timmy Allen more room to operate. He could have his first big game of the tournament if Xavier pays Disu too much attention.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.