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Get to Know Your Opponent: Xavier

WestCoastd'Artagnan from SB Nation's Banners on the Parkway sat down and answered some #HOTSPORTSTAKES about Alabama's upcoming match-up with the Musketeers

Gary A.Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Today is a huge day for Alabama athletics, as the Men's Basketball team heads up to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier Musketeers, and the football team has some kind of match in Atlanta or something. Head on over to Banners on the Parkway for tons of quality information on the Big X, including my answers to their questions.

RBR: Trevon Bluiett has been sensational this season. What is the ceiling on this guy?

BOTP: At this point the sky is the limit. Bluiett set the school record for points in a freshman debut with his first game and led the team in scoring in the second game. A lot of questions have been raised on what position he should be playing, but the reality is that the guy can play and he's going to play a lot of minutes. Maybe I am drinking the kool-aid too much, but I honestly think he is going to be the Big East freshman of the year and will be competing with Georgetown's L.J. Peak.

RBR: From the little bit I have watched of Xavier this season, I've noticed that the defense has not been the trademark Xavier defense of years past. What do you attest that to? I noticed in the last LBSU game that the 49ers (Caffey especially) were just laying it on y'all from three. Is slow rotation the main issue?

BOTP: A small part of me was really hoping that this would not come up, but being a good reporter of course you asked it. Xavier's defense has been shaky this season so far. So far every team has scored at least 62 points on us this season. Sadly I cannot really point out any specific player on this, it's more of a team problem on the defensive end. Perimeter defense has been a huge problem and needs to be fixed asap.

RBR: On the flip side of the defense, the offense has torn it up thus far. Obviously, the addition of guys like Blueitt and Remy Abell have made a big difference, but who else has elevated their game to get y'all to this enormous level of success on offense?

BOTP: As dark as our defensive has looked, the offensive has been as sunny as can be. Bluiett has been lighting it up and Matt Stainbrook (the Stain Train) has been a force. Probably the biggest surprise this season has been junior James Farr. He made a big leap last season, and this season he's been looking even better. Call me an optimist, but I honestly think that he's going to take an even bigger step forward come conference play. The offense has been exciting this year, and that has definitely been fun to see.

RBR: The Muskies started out 5-0, looking like another NCAA Tournament team and a contender in the new Big East. Then, y'all dropped back-to-back to, let's say, not good teams. What went wrong? Also, how is the fan base feeling moving forward?

BOTP: Ah the curse of Thanksgiving. Xavier has traditionally played poorly during Thanksgiving tournaments, and sadly this year was no exception. Part of the problem with playing a high shooting offense is that when the shots don't fall, the teams falls. Xavier lost a close game to UTEP before getting out shot by a Long Beach State team that we had already defeated. The tournament was a disaster, so right now the fan base is down but optimistic. We seem to be in this place every single year, so a strong end to the non-conference schedule (starting with a win over y'all) would be a great boost in confidence.

RBR: Speaking of the new (new-ish at least) Big East, how have y'all enjoyed the new neighborhood? As a neutral observer, I'm a huge fan of the new look.

BOTP: Coming out of the Atlantic 10 and into the Big East has been a great change. The conference has let us match up against better competition (and DePaul) and the tv deal with Fox Sports has definitely increased the schools range. Last season the conference fell short in the post-season, and I think this season will see a much better performance with a strong Villanova, and several strong teams such as Georgetown and Providence. There's just something about having a basketball driven league. Nothing against the football conferences, but having basketball be the main attraction makes this conference feel truly special. I may be an optimist. But I'm calling for 5 tournament teams and 2 in the NIT out of the 10 Big East members.

RBR: Cincinnati is obviously a much different destination for Crimson Tide fans, mind giving the few making the trip some pro-tips?

BOTP: Oh my friend welcome to Cincinnati! The queen city may not be a giant metropolis, but porkopolis (called this because they used to run pigs down to the river to put them on boats) has a lot to offer. Great museums, the outdoors not too far away, a strong, vibrant culture and of course, great food. I would definitely try to visit the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum (which is free!). Downtown and Fountain Square is definitely a can't miss and I love the Hyde Park neighborhood. Food wise, Cincinnati has a very unique kind of "chili" that we all love. Essentially it's a special sauce that you put on top of noodles and top it off with loads of cheese. In Cincinnati this is called a 3-way and no one does it better then Skyline Chili (and yes, their are 4-ways and 5-ways). There's other chili places, but in terms of chains Skyline is by far the best. Other food includes plenty of amazing German food (it's a very German city) and some fine dining in Mount Adams. Before the game, everyone should go to the Morlein Lager House downtown for some great food and even better local brews. Also Listermann's right across from campus does a great job. It's hard to go wrong with food and drinks in the Queen City.

Thanks again to WestCoastd'Artagnan for the pleasant exchange. I've got to say, Cincinnati looks like a place I've got to visit at some point.