If Ole Miss is to advance after their thrilling victory over BYU, it's going to take a strong effort and disciplined play. The Rebels shook off some demons last night, playing physical basketball and taking high percentage shots. They can't revert to the way they played in the first half though, or Xavier will destroy them.
Much has been made of Xavier's puzzling losses to Auburn, DePaul, Creighton, and Long Beach State, but the Musketeers have really turned things on lately, with impressive wins over Georgetown (twice), Butler (twice), Cincinnati, and Providence. They're quite good, and leading scorer Matt Stainbrook is what makes their team work offensively. The center is a 6'10" 265 pounder averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. In terms of sheer size, he will be a player with whom it is tough to deal.
The big problem for the Rebels will likely be just how efficient Xavier is at scoring. They don't rebound the ball particularly well (statistically), but part of that probably has to do with making 47% of their shots on the season. There are fewer opportunities for rebounds when you're making shots.
In looking at their schedule this season, I was struck by the fact that St. John's, a nine seed, beat Xavier both times they played. In looking a little bit more at the details of those games, it looks like St. John's wielded a four guard lineup that was a bit too much for Xavier. St. John's guards scored roughly all the points in both games, with little to no production coming from the bigs. If Ole Miss guards are producing, that could prove problematic for the Musketeers.
When it comes down to it this game, like many others, will probably be decided by Stefan Moody. If the Musketeers can contain him, it's tough to see a scenario in which the Rebels win. If last night's game was a sign of things to come, however, look out Baylor Bears.