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Atlantic-10 title game preview: Xavier vs. St. Bonaventure

Dezmine Wells, Andrew Nicholson

Xavier forward Dezmine Wells (5) goes up for a shot against St. Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson (44) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Cincinnati. Xavier won 77-64. (AP Photo/David Kohl)


The may be the most interesting of the title games on Sunday.

Xavier is in. Wins over Dayton and St. Louis ensured that fact.

St. Bonaventure isn’t, however. They aren’t even on the bubble. But they are playing well right now and they do have the Atlantic 10’s Player of the Year on their roster in potential NBA Draft pick Andrew Nicholson. Kenny Frease has been playing a terrific brand of basketball over the last three weeks, but Nicholson is on a different level. He’s a talented scorer, a guy that can get a bucket facing up from 17 foot or by using post moves on the block. Frease and company are going to have their work cut out for them on the block.

The Bonnies are the last remaining bid thief in the field and, frankly, seeing them win wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing. The bubble is very, very weak this year, and given the fact that there were no upsets in multi-bid mid-major leagues and a select few of the teams on the bubble actually helped their cause during Championship Week, seeing a team play their way into the tournament would actually be a bit refreshing.

The bigger story, at least in my mind, will be seeing whether or not Xavier has actually turned this thing around. The Musketeers made a pair of comebacks in Atlantic City, and while it was Tu Holloway that sparked the runs by taking over early in the second half, it was his back court mates than had the job of closer.

Mark Lyons scored seven straight points, including the game-winning bucket, against Dayton. Dez Wells scored 14 of his 18 points in the final eight minutes, including eight in a row as Xavier gained control, in the win over St. Louis.

If those three continue to play well, the performance of Xavier’s big men could end up being some what irrelevant.

Xavier relies on their guards, and when they are playing up to their lofty potential, this is a difficult team to beat.

If they make a statement, Xavier is going to find themselves on a lot of “you don’t want to draw this team” lists tomorrow.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.