Welcome to another edition of Inside the Enemy Ship! We spoke to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer who is a tremendous journalist. Give her a follow on twitter @slrussell. Here are her responses to our questions:
BBA: Xavier is coming off of a big win over the Villanova, do you think there is a chance of a letdown in this game?
Russell: Perhaps, but it’s doubtful. Xavier players have been pretty unflappable this season, meaning they haven’t been swayed by their highest highs or lowest lows. They approach each game in a very business-like manner, and they know how big of a challenge Seton Hall is.
BBA: Xavier has an impressive resume. Do you believe they will be a #1 seed when all is said and done?
Russell: I think Xavier would have to win out the Big East tournament for the No. 1 seed. They took a step forward with Wednesday’s defeat of Villanova. If they met and defeated the Wildcats in the conference tournament final, then I think they would land a top seed.
BBA: Do you believe Isaiah Whitehead deserves some attention for Big East player of the year?
Russell: Isaiah Whitehead certainly is one of the best players in the league and in my opinion a contender. His play in the last five to six games, plus his importance to the Pirates, makes him immensely valuable. That said, the player of the year likely will come from a league-leading team and I wouldn’t count out Kris Dunn of Providence, either.
BBA: Is Xavier at its best when it is in its 1-3-1 zone?
Russell: Xavier is at its best when it plays man-to-man defense. That’s its bread and butter. The 1-3-1 is a curveball the Musketeers use and it has been immensely effective in spurts. But the 1-3-1 at times wears out its welcome and teams facing XU a second time in league play tend to find seams against it.
BBA: What player should Seton Hall be most concerned about facing on Sunday?
Russell: Xavier’s balance makes it difficult to pinpoint one person. Trevon Bluiett leads the team in scoring but Edmond Sumner, J.P. Macura and Jalen Reynolds have been playing very well lately. James Farr had 24 points and 15 rebounds last time out against Seton Hall, so he perhaps is a focal point heading into the rematch.
BBA: What do you think is Xavier’s ceiling, final four, elite eight?
Russell: Hard to say. The ultimate goal is a Final Four but if this team keeps playing as well as it has been lately, there’s no ceiling.
BBA: Final Score Prediction?
Russell: Xavier, 78-68
We would again like to extend a big thank you to Shannon Russell. She is a must follow on twitter and provide a vast amount of information. We will have full coverage of the Xavier game tomorrow. Game time is 12:30 p.m and can be found on FS1. Until then, Hazard Zet Forward.