Big East Tournament Preview

When the new Big East formed a few years ago, one of the privileges they retained from the old Big East was the chance to play their conference tournament in The World’s Most Famous Arena. The fanbases of all 10 schools can descend upon the Big Apple and sit in the comfy seats of Madison Square Garden while they watch their team compete for a conference tournament trophy.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to realize that Xavier and their fans probably envisioned that they would be playing at MSG this year under very different circumstances. Understandably, I heard a lot of fans commiserating that they had to re-arrange their travel plans because they were planning on flying to New York City tomorrow when X would presumably be playing their first game. Understandably so – if the Musketeers had won just one more conference game, they would have earned a bye and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion right now. But as it is, the Ski’s are looking for their second win over the DePaul Blue Demons in as many games.

Let’s take a look at this bracket real quick. When I saw this the other day after it was finalized, I’ll be honest, I was somewhat shocked. I really don’t think it could have panned out any better for Xavier. There are a lot of predictions being thrown around, but I think a deep run is very realistic. My first thoughts on Saturday when I was breaking this down went like this:

“Well, we should beat DePaul assuming there’s no mental lapse or complete debacle. Assuming the guys can get over that first hurdle, they’ll play a Butler team who they almost beat a couple of weeks ago and who they won’t be wanting to lose to a third time in a row. Then it would be onto another winnable game against Creighton or Providence, both of whom Xavier has beaten this season. So I’m not sayin…but I’m just sayin…”

Look, the way the ball has been rolling for the Musketeers over the last month, WHO KNOWS what in the world is going to happen after tip-off tonight. X could lay an egg and their season could basically be over. OR…they could wallop DePaul as they should, get some fire under them, and roll into tomorrow night against the Bulldogs with some confidence.

You can’t get to the second game without winning the first. And that first game is tonight at 9:30 on Fox Sports 1. Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery will be on the call, and Lisa Byington will be reporting from the sideline.

X is in the city, now let’s hope they make some noise in the city that never sleeps.

It’s OK to Be Frustrated, But Don’t Give Up

Before the season began, I stepped back and took a look at what this Xavier team might be. Many national pundits believed this team would be as good, if not better, than last year’s team that was arguably the best in program history. The 2016-2017 version of the Musketeers was a consensus top-10 team that should only improve, not decline. I wasn’t exactly along the same wavelength, but I did think this was a top-20 team that would improve as the season went along. Whereas last year’s team lost four games in the regular season and six games total, I predicted eight regular season losses for this year because I thought there were too many variables; two grad transfers, two freshmen, a suspended senior leader, lack of depth, etc.

All season, I’ve written about staying positive through some of the losses. Finishing with two non-conference losses before conference play began (three including UC), was good, considering one of those losses was to a top-5 team. There was always still plenty of time to right the ship, plenty of time to turn things around, and numerous matchups against high-quality opponents left on the schedule.

Well, don’t look now, but there’s only three regular season games left, and one of those is against DePaul. I’m not here to hound this team or criticize. Coach Mack has done a fine job with the obstacles that have been thrown his way. Save for an 0-3 finish and a first round loss in the Big East tournament, this team will make the NCAA tournament.

I think I speak for a lot of people in saying that these games have been frustrating. BUT, everyone, it’s not time to capitulate, not time to wave the white flag, not time to look to next season. The most important games of the season are still on the horizon, and frankly, with a strong showing in March, the majority of these trials and tribulations will be lost in the wind.

Baylor’s Second Half Buries Xavier

There is usually an underlying theme in Xavier’s big losses, and there is generally an overwhelming frustration that the game was lost through one particular statistic or at one specific point. Last year against Creighton, it was an atrocious shooting performance. Against Villanova, Edmond Sumner was crushed on the court shortly after tip-off. Continue reading “Baylor’s Second Half Buries Xavier”