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Game Preview and Open Thread - Auburn vs. Xavier

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Maui Invitational Quarterfinal Action!!

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Auburn Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Monday November 19

Opponent: Xavier Musketeers

Location: Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii

Time: 1:30PM (9:30AM Hawaiian Time)

Network: ESPN2, Watch ESPN, Auburn Radio Network

Get to Know Xavier.....

For a more comprehensive look at the Musketeers, check out my Q&A with Banners on the Parkway published earlier today. The Musketeers come into Maui with a 2-1 record, an 82-69 win over IUPUI and a 91-85 win over Evansville, followed by a 77-68 loss to Wisconsin. Xavier allowed Wisconsin to shoot 56% from 3-point range on Tuesday. On the interior, Xavier has a solid group manning the paint including 6’11” Zach Hankins, 6’10” Ryan Welage and 6’9” Tyrique Jones, who has a 19 point, 20 rebound game to his credit this year. Also keep an eye on Naji Marshall, who had 24 against Wisconsin.

What to Look for from Auburn...

Auburn is averaging over 97 points a game in their first 3 games, while Xavier has given up an average of 77 points a game over their first 3 games. While I think Auburn is the better team here, it’s imperative that Auburn shoots the ball well in this game. While scoring 103 points in their last outing against Mississippi College, they were just 8-33 from 3-point range. In addition, while many people have already penciled in a Duke-Auburn matchup on Tuesday, don’t sleep on the Musketeers. They’ve got a pretty good team and I fully expect them to be ready to play after a tough loss to Wisconsin last Tuesday. The hope for Auburn is that the shooting travels well and the team is ready to go with such an early morning tipoff.

Score Prediction

I’ll be honest, this game worries me a bit. It’s the first game of the tournament and hopefully the juices are flowing to where the guys get into a good rhythm. And knowing what’s potentially at stake on Tuesday cannot cross the guys mind. That said, Auburn looks to be the better team on paper and if they play their game, they should win this game. Auburn 89 Xavier 75

FULL MAUI INVITATIONAL PREDICTIONS!

First we get Will’s game-by-game predictions...

Day 1

Auburn over Xavier

Duke over San Diego State

Arizona over Iowa State

Gonzaga over Illinois

Day 2

San Diego State over Xavier

Iowa State over Illinois

Duke over Auburn (sorry ya’ll)

Gonzaga over Arizona

Day 3

7th Place Game: Xavier over Illinois

5th Place Game: Iowa State over San Diego State

3rd Place Game: Auburn over Arizona

Championship: Duke over Gonzaga

Now for AU Nerd’s predictions...

Day 1

Game 1: Auburn over Xavier (Xavier is 343rd in 3 pt defense. Auburn is 36 in 3 pt FG % but it’s Wiley in the interior that proves the biggest difference)

Game 2: Duke over SDSU (Aztecs actually ranked higher than Xavier in Kenpom)

Game 3: Iowa State over Arizona (BPI has Cyclones 32nd, Kenpom has them 25th, Wildcats ranked in 70s on both)

Game 4: Gonzaga over Illinois (Zags are legit)

Day 2

Game 5: SDSU over Xavier (it’s gonna take some time for this Musketeers squad to find themselves)

Game 6: Arizona over Illinois (honestly just guessing)

Game 7: Duke over Auburn (I WANNA BELIEVE)

Game 8: Gonzaga over Iowa State (I’m high on the Zags)

Day 3

Game 9: SDSU over Arizona (#Aztecs)

Game 10: Gonzaga over Duke (AU drains Blue Devils energy day before, Bulldogs take advantage)

Game 11: Xavier over Illinois (now I’m just faking it)

Game 12: Auburn over Iowa State (Tigers bounce back to finish 3rd on the island)

Meanwhile, here are some other less-detailed selections...

“Auburn - this is a great time for us to be thankful that our coach is Bruce Pearl and not the guy who blew the 2006 NBA Finals when he had a 2-0 lead. And then he blew the 2007 1-8 matchup in the playoffs being the first coach ever to lose to an eight seed! Thanks for not being that guy, Bruce.” - Son of Crow

“I really want to take Auburn, but I think this is Duke’s tournament. They are really strong and I am so excited to use this as a measuring stick for this ball club. Auburn has the talent to win and if this was in February I probably go Auburn at full strength and in their stride but not just yet.” - Drew McCracken

“Auburn basketball is winning Maui, duh.” - Ryan Sterritt

“And your official Maui Invitiational Winner out of these teams: ugh. I think I have to go with Dook. Williamson and Barrett just might be too much. I do think Auburn can get 3rd place. I’m just happy to see Auburn competing at that level.” - James Jones

“As much as winning Maui would be incredible, and likely make Auburn fans as a whole gloss completely over the Iron Bowl on Saturday, I think that Duke’s the favorite for good reason. They’ve got athletes that the other teams won’t see anywhere else. That win over Kentucky is looking a little less impressive since the Cats don’t appear to be the #2 team in the country, but the Blue Devils are still really, really, really good. I have to take them with Auburn pushing them as hard as anyone will until ACC play begins.” - Jack Condon