While Saturday's win and subsequent celebrations may have injured Coach Mack's rotator cuff, it did nothing to hurt the Musketeers at large chances. Losing to Richmond would have assured that Xavier had to win the A10 tournament in order to make the Big Dance. Now, the at large remains a distinct possibility so long as the Musketeers take care of business.
Of course, the first order of business is beating Saint Louis tomorrow night. Going into Chaifetz and winning is something only one team, Temple, has managed to do this year, but it is vital that Xavier do just that. KenPom is currently showing the Billikens as an 84% winner and projecting a 68-58 Saint Louis win. That would put the Musketeers into a very dangerous position.Right now things are tenuous a best for Coach Mack's charges. Here's what the various media outlets are thinking this Monday morning.
ESPN: Joe Lunardi still has Xavier on the Last Four In line, playing Miami in a play in game. While that is better than being out, it leaves the Musketeers in a position where even wins don't guarantee anything. Lunardi warns that the last two spots are actually generally taken by bid thieves. Jay Bilas relentlessly hypes his Bilas Index, in which he has the Musketeers 55th, and out of the tournament. Hopefully, bloviating know it alls won't be making the decision. Eamonn Brennan still has the Musketeers clinging to the bubble after what he called "an ugly but ultimately victorious Saturday."
CBS: Jerry Palm has both Xavier and Saint Louis hanging on the nebulous "work to do" line. Palm thinks that the lack of good road wins on the resume will damage the Musketeers more than anything else. Saint Louis, by the way, really hurt their own chances with a terrible loss to Rhode Island this weekend.
RPI: Xavier is still hanging in the low to mid 50s (56 currently), which is not a good area for an at large team to be. The Tuesday night game will bump that number up no matter what, but a win could get X into the much more comfortable mid 40s. Keep in mind though, teams looking for an at large bid need to have an RPI above 35 to truly feel comfortable.
Others: Fox/Yardbarker say Xavier is in, for sure, with a win over the Billikens and could be an 11 seed with a loss Tuesday but a victory over Charlotte. I say that Fox/Yardbarker is crazy. Over at SI, Andy Glockner is still saying Dayton has a chance to sneak in.
Three Answers from Richmond:
- Can Xavier adjust to a hot shooting team? No. Richmond shot over 60% in the second half to come all the way over the top on a 16 point deficit. At some point the Musketeers are going to have to stop someone. Allowing mediocre offensive teams to shoot 48% from the floor on the game won't win many.
- Can Kenny Frease summon a run? 19/14/0. It seems like most Xavier fans will look at that and decry Kenny's lack of assists, but the big man came to play on Saturday. I would say that Xavier is hard to beat when Kenny is playing like that, but the vaunted Richmond Spiders about did it. That said, an effective Kenny Frease makes this team far more dangerous.
- Who guards Williams? Williams went 3-4 for 7/5/1, so the variations on matchup zones and man to man that the Musketeers threw out there clearly worked. In that same vein, Xavier held the Spiders to only 18 three point attempts. That's still a lot, but it's better than a number in the 30s.
As this is a hodgepodge article, here are some hodgepodge thoughts on the Spiders game.
Things I liked:
- Coach Mack's intensity: Coach Mack freaked out when Kenny grabbed the offensive rebound off Tu Holloway's miss, and for good reason. Mack had been into the game all night and finally seemed to let loose a lot of frustration with his cathartic fist-pumping half dance.
- Tu Holloway: Tu made two huge driving buckets with under three minutes to play that kept Richmond from coming all the way back. Tu didn't dominate the way he did against Dayton, but he was there when he needed to be. I should be noted that Tu seems very comfortable with Brad Redford on the floor, and Redford played 18 minutes last night.
Things I didn't like:
- Mark Lyons: More troubling than another poor shooting night is Lyons propensity to be the Randy Moss of this team. My dad, himself a longtime coach and referee, pointed out that it is glaringly obvious when watching a game in person how much time Lyons spends standing. I pulled out the game tape (ok, I hit list on DVR) last night and watched Mark carefully. He spent a great deal of time just watching the play unfold until he had a chance to get the ball and run at the rim. That is what is stalling the offense and getting Brad Redford minutes.
Stay tuned to @BannersParkway for constantly updated bubble news as games are played in the next two weeks.