The Xavier Musketeers have already completed their offseason coaching search, hiring Sean Miller for a second time after parting ways with Travis Steele, but it is an interim coaching regime who will be on the Xavier sidelines in the NIT quarterfinals on Tuesday against Vanderbilt.
Amid all this hoopla Jonas Hayes, who has a near normal roster at his disposal with few to no injuries and opt outs to hinder the team, but faces a Vanderbilt team that is as close to full strength as they have been all season.
The Commodores have 7-foot-0 center Liam Robbins and Dayton transfer Rodney Chatman in their starting lineup after both combined to miss 37 games this season with Robbins leading the team in blocks per game with 2.1 and Chatman shooting 39.1% from 3-point range with 8.3 points per game.
Vanderbilt also has Scottie Pippen Jr. in their backcourt, who’s 20.2 points per game is 16th among qualifying Division I players and is the only player at the Division I level averaging more than eight free throw attempts per game.
The Xavier defense has also fallen part towards the ladder half of the season, allowing at least 68 points in 11 of their last 12 games while Vanderbilt has scored at least 69 points in 14 of their last 16 games.
The Commodores are forcing a turnover on 20.4% of opponents possessions, which is 43rd in the country and should turn up the heat on a Xavier team that has covered just five of their last 19 games.
The Play: Vanderbilt +4
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