Whoa! It may not be March but it’s tourney time everybody. Life comes at you fast, doesn’t it? One second you might be skipping night class to watch Xavier wallop the Buffalo Bulls, then three days later you’re discreetly opening your laptop in class to watch the guys take on the Missouri Tigers. So here’s what you need to know.First of all, this is the Tire Pros Invitational, and it’s being held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando. It was supposed to be in Puerto Rico, but because of Zika concerns, it’s in DISNEY!!!!!!! P.S. Xavier won the Advocare Invitational at the same place last year…good vibes amiright?
Missouri – Thursday at (tentatively) 1 on ESPNU
I say tentatively because Clemson and Davidson play at 11, so Xavier and Missouri will play after that finishes.
Speaking of Clemson and Davidson, who thought it was a good idea to put so many species of exotic cats in one tournament?! We have two Tigers, Wildcats, and Panthers. Not sure about you but that doesn’t sound too inviting. I’m more of a dog guy anyway.
Xavier has beaten up on the Missouri Tigers the last two years, and they’re trying to make it a solid trifecta. Missouri’s only played one game so far, walloping Alabama A&M to the tune of 99-44. However, Missouri checks in at 146 (out of 351 Division 1 teams) in the KenPom rankings and they were picked to finish last in the SEC this season.
Watch Out For: Kevin Puryear, Terrence Phillips, and Cullen VanLeer are all returning players to keep an eye on. Also, Frankie Hughes scored 23 points in his collegiate debut against Alabama A&M.
Bottom Line: Xavier should win this game fairly handily. Assuming the Muskies get out to an early lead, the story line will transition to whether they can close the game like they did against Buffalo as opposed to Lehigh. Missouri is a very young team and Xavier’s offensive barrage should really be too much to handle. The Tigers have won 19 games the last two years combined, and Xavier won 19 games last year before the calendar even read February.
The Rest of the Field
If Xavier wins tomorrow, they play at 1:30 on Friday against the winner of Clemson-Davidson. Should the result not go as planned, it would be an 11:30 tip-off against that game’s loser.
Clemson would be a good early-season match-up for Xavier, and would be their first real test. Davidson isn’t all that shabby either, but neither of these teams should pose any kind of insurmountable threat to a Musketeer team firing on all cylinders.
On the other side of the bracket, there’s a chance Xavier plays Northern Iowa in back-to-back games if they meet in the championship in Orlando. Just because of how the schedule works out, UNI comes to the Cintas Center next Saturday, i.e. the same day you’re trying to get out of your house because you’ve been spending too much time with your family already. It’s like Xavier knew all along!
Oklahoma also sits on the opposite side, but without Buddy Hield, they’re hardly the same team they were last year.
Northern Iowa plays Arizona State in the first of the nightcap Thursday at 4:30, and then Oklahoma plays Tulane at 7.
Xavier is guaranteed three games, no matter if they go 0-3 or 3-0. They’ll play Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.
TL;DR – Xavier should win this tournament. That’s not to say there could be a poor shooting night or something could go drastically wrong, but this is Xavier’s to lose.