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.