In sports, just like in life, there are mountains and there are valleys. Some peaks are just as high as the deepest depths are low, and the 2015-2016 season of Xavier basketball was one of those peaks. Relative to last season, this year might seem like one of those depths; even a Mariana’s Trench to some doom-seekers. However, in the grand scheme of things, Xavier is having a season dozens of other teams would use as their benchmark. Let’s run through a few numbers. In 2015, Xavier finished the regular season 18-12. What’s the team’s current record? 17-11. That 2015 team made the Big East final, and came within seven minutes of an Elite Eight. I won’t be naive and overlook the fact that that team was healthy and was clicking at the right time to pull off those runs. But in a very realistic sense, this year’s team has a high chance of finishing with a better record, or at least the same record, as that team.
There are 351 Division I teams. Xavier has more wins than 236 of them. They’re 26th in the RPI. The Musketeers are playing the SIXTH hardest schedule out of those 351 teams. And for the last quarter of the season, they’ve been without their most athletic player and managed to stay right in the hunt for a 7-10 seed in the NCAA tournament. Making the tournament would mean making their 11th appearance in 12 years. They would be one of only NINE schools that could say the same.
Additionally, Tomorrow night at Cintas is Senior Night. RaShid Gaston, Malcolm Bernard, Tim Stainbrook, Alex Bergen, and Cullen Barr will all be honored before the game for their contributions to the team over the years. In addition, tomorrow could be your last chance to see Trevon Bluiett if he decides to forgo his senior year to play professionally. Marquette will be the last team these guys face on their home court, in front of their own fans.
Joe Lunardi firmly believes that Xavier is in no matter what happens the rest of the way. CBS Sports and some other outlets think Xavier is playing their way onto the bubble, but that it would take other factors for Xavier to find themselves on the outside looking in on March 12th. A win tomorrow, or at least a win against DePaul, would calm the stomachs of many fans throughout Xavier nation.
So show up. It’s a white-out, so wear white. In the words of Coach Mack, make it raucous. For these seniors, and for the last home game of the season. It’s easy to cheer for the team like last year, but on a losing streak like this, this is when they need the support the most.