The best game on Thursday's Sweet 16 slate is shaping up to be No. 2 Arizona's showdown against No. 6 Xavier.
Arizona showed they can shut down a single star on Saturday by holding Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell to nine points on 3-19 shooting, but Xavier has wide array of scoring options. In their Saturday game against Georgia State, the Musketeers shot 67.6 percent from the floor and 53.8 on three-point shots. The team's leading scorer is Matt Stainbrook, a 6'10, 260 pound behemoth with exceptional skill and touch around the basket for his size. Even Arizona's 7' center Kaleb Tarczewski could look a bit undersized against Stainbrook and his sheer physicality down low.
But Xavier has five other players who averaged eight points or more this season. On Saturday, 38 of the Musketeers' 75 points came from two bench players, Myles Davis and Jalen Reynolds. Davis is a sweet-shooting guard who hit five shots from behind the arc, while Davis used his size inside to break free for several layups and dunks.
Trevon Bluiett only played 15 minutes with foul trouble, scoring three points. He was Xavier's second-leading scorer this season and should be a bigger factor in this Sweet 16 matchup.
In Big East conference play, Xavier lost to No. 1 Villanova twice. Even so, Arizona will probably be the most talented and most athletic all-around team the Musketeers has faced the entire season. The Wildcats roster is chock full of players who are dangerous on both ends.
It starts with Stanley Johnson, who averaged 14 points a game for Arizona in the regular season. After 22 points in the Wildcats' opening game of the tournament, Johnson struggled against Ohio State, scoring just four points on 1-12 shooting. Still, he's relentless inside and should be due to bounce back against Xavier.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led Arizona's suffocating coverage of Russell, who is likely a top five pick in the NBA Draft this summer. He's another athletic, rangy forward who at 6'7 can guard several positions. He scored 11 points, nabbed 10 rebounds and dished five assists in the win over Ohio State.
T.J. McConnell is an experienced point guard who leads this Wildcats unit while Gabe York is a long-range threat off the bench who nailed five three-pointers on Saturday.
Time: 10:17 p.m. ET on TBS
Place: Los Angeles, California
Online: March Madness On Demand
Odds: Arizona -10.5