Let's talk about recalibrating expectations. Seven games and a trophy into the year, we're undefeated, we've got a road win at a major conference opponent, we've broken the Thanksgiving curse, and done all that with more games outside of Cintas than in it. What is your feeling about the ceiling for this team now?
This does change things a bit. Still, it's only seven games. 7-0 is a lot better than the usual Thanksgiving thermonuclear meltdown, but we haven't yet proven that there should be higher expectations. We all agreed at the start of the season that this was a Sweet 16 team. The next logical step is to say they are an Elite Eight team. Are we ready to say this is one of the best eight teams in the nation already?
Maybe not one of the best eight teams in the nation, but the tournament isn't about identifying the best, is it? It's all about matchups in March, and we matchup pretty dang well with most teams right now. The scoring inside the arc will come; in the meantime, we certainly get plenty of second chances. We can shoot it, we take care of it, and we're doing a good job of playing unselfishly right now.
On defense, the same weakness we always have is still there, but even that is being exaggerated because teams are forced to shoot a bunch of threes because they're usually playing from behind. We force turnovers pretty well. The best part of our defense is that we kill possessions with defensive rebounds. I think it's premature to say that we're a top-8 team, but I do feel comfortable in saying that the pool of teams that present bad matchups for us looks pretty small right now.
The thing that makes me think this team can make a long run is the scope of weapons on offense. The 08 team was balanced, but I think this team has more guys who can explode for 20 on any given night, which means teams can't key on just one guy. Right now at 7-0, Trevon is really the only player who has been consistently a big part of the offensive scoring duties. Everyone else has had an off night, and no one has come within 10 points of making it matter.
Meanwhile, the polls are out and Xavier is 12th in the AP and 18th in Coaches' poll. We have two cupcakes before the Shootout. UC hosts Butler and then a miserable Morgan State squad. We could realistically be looking at two top-15 programs facing off when the Shootout rolls around. This is a heck of a year to have it at home.
I think the Butler game will be interesting for UC, because they have played a weak schedule so far. This is our best start since the fight year, so how concerned are we about a potential post-shootout letdown (obviously without the suspensions).
I don't know; KenPom is giving us a 1 in 5,000 shot at going undefeated, so I say we roll with that. Beyond that, we've got a week off and then Auburn at home after the Shootout. Whatever happens against UC, we should drub Auburn and head into Christmas happy.
Coming off a week off after the biggest non-conference game of the season will be an interesting barometer of the team's growth and maturity. If we sleepwalk through that one like we did NKU, that's probably not a good sign. If we beat them like rented mules, I'd say we're locked in going into the Prosser game and the Big East season.
Getting to your original question, I think we'll avoid the hangover this year. Myles will have the team's collective head right; he especially has been playing like he wants to prove something to the world at large.
1 in 5,000? So you're saying there's a chance?
Looking at our December schedule I think it is all very winnable. Xavier is playing tremendously better defense this year and I agree with Bryan on having several guys who can explode. Someone is going to step up each night and that makes us dangerous for our opponents.
What do you all make of the rankings? I thought we'd be 16 or around there so I was a bit surprised to see #12 in the AP poll.
I never know what to make of the polls, but it's always fun to be up there. I wasn't surprised to see X shoot up the AP; it seems like everyone in the media has suddenly caught on in the past week that we might be good. The coaches are busy coaching I guess. They'll catch up in a week or so. I was hoping we'd be in the late teens, so seeing that #12 was a pleasant surprise. If we leave the Shootout 10-0, we'll easily be ranked in the top 10 (as long as we don't fight anyone).
If I remember correctly, we were #8 heading into the 2011 shootout? That was an exciting time on campus. I do not think we'll be that high with a 9-0 start, but it should would be fun.