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Sunday Conversation 2/22

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Xavier got a big pair of wins this week; does that push them off the bubble? And who should Muskie fans be hoping the team draws in the conference tournament?

WE EATIN'.
WE EATIN'.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Brad
Wow. How much different does this Saturday feel than last? (Other than the perpetual life squelching snow). Two huge wins this week and all of the sudden we look really good.

Joel
Really, really good. A split this week and a win against Creighton and we're in. I hate that we have to play St. John's so quickly after this game. Going to have to get it pieced together in a hurry.

Going back to the week that was for a moment, how about Big Game James Farr? He put together a tidy 15/14/0 on 7-11/1-3/0-0 shooting in 32 minutes of play. Is he resurgent, or was it just matchups?

Bryan
It has to be mostly down to him. The numbers he was putting up earlier can't be attributed to someone shutting him down literally every time he stepped on to the court, he was just struggling. Credit to the man, though. He was sensational for a stretch today and was solid otherwise in both the last two games. Long may it continue.

Joel
He was sensational for a stretch because he only played a stretch; he got 11 minutes of burn today. I'm fine with him being third in the pecking order of the bigs, he just needs to keep coming out hard like that. I think the lack of a shooting big man in these two teams helped hide him on defense. So does the fact that "stand inert in the lane until a shot goes up" is an actual position in the 1-3-1.

This is the eighth week of the new year (counting from the Georgetown game to open conference play). In the first seven of them, we went 1-1. This is our first 2-0 week all year and the first since we beat IUPUI and then Missouri on 12/9 and 12/13. Is it accurate to say that our talent is finally starting to gel into a team for the stretch run, or is that wishful thinking based on a small sample of positive results?

Brad
How do you tell the difference? I would say this is the best two game stretch we've played all year. DePaul and Georgetown back to back was nice, but not like this. That start of the season was all NAU and Murray St. We won a huge road game and then utterly crushed a ranked team at home. Call it what you like, we needed it to happen for us this week.

Joel
Selection Sunday is three weeks from today; what do we need to do to make it?

Bryan
If we beat Creighton, I think we win one of the next two or a Big East tourney game to be sitting pretty. I would like for us to stay above .500 in the conference. I think we can do it.

Brad
Best Creighton. I think that does it now. We have too many good wins to be left out at this point. If you want to remove any sliver of doubt, beat St. John's as well. Honestly though, I think one more won does it.

Bryan
I would be nervous about being 19-13 with some of the bad losses we have. I am not saying we couldn't make it, but it would be nerve wracking.

Joel
I'm with Bry. We need to split this week and beat Creighton or beat Creighton and win at least one in the Big East tournament. I think 20-12 or 20-13 gets us in, but I'm not sure 19-13 does. If teams who weren't going to make it at-large start stealing auto bids, I'd like to have some insurance. The Committee likes that 20th win.

Brad
They do, but it would be really hard to leave a team 4-1 against the top 25 out. I think we get one this week to render this conversation moot, and I wouldn't be stunned if it's Nova. A bit surprised, but not stunned.

Bryan
If we play like we did against Butler, I can see beating Nova too. Which game do you guys think is more winnable?

Brad
Definitely St. John's. You never know when they're going to toss up a 27% from the floor and Villanova is still a tough matchup for our defense, no matter how well we play.

Bryan
I think it is actually pretty close. We are still unconvincing on the road (and sometimes at home) so I am expecting St. John's to be a test. Nova is a tough team, no doubt, but we were tough against them in the second half on the road. Ultimately, I think St. John's as well, but they are both winnable, and consequently also losable as well.

Joel
It comes down to which you think presents the worse matchup for us: St. John's athleticism or Nova's offensive machine. Because of the way we play defense and the immobility of our big men, I think a team that shares the ball and shoots well is always going to hurt us. I'm not sure we can 1-3-1 ourselves out of trouble against what they do. Being at our place will help, but I don't think it will be enough.

We can scheme the Johnnies out of those transition baskets. They can shoot it pretty well and are certainly athletic, but I thought we were a little unlucky to lose to them at Cintas. I think we have about the same chance at each game, so I'll take Nova just to be contrary.

Joel
Nova has a conference tournament bye basically in the bag. The bottom four seem to be Seton Hall, Marquette, Creighton, and DePaul. We'll fall somewhere between 3 and 6, which means we'll draw one of Butler, Providence, St. John's, and Georgetown in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Who would be your choice, and who do you absolutely not want to see?

Bryan
I would probably choose Providence or Georgetown, simply because of the way we match up with them. I think Butler with Charabascz gives us trouble but we handled Georgetown well and Providence seemed to struggle with the 1-3-1. St. John's is not a great matchup for us because of how athletic they are, although if they shoot poorly it would help. Hoping someone shoots poorly against us is by no means a solid bet though.

Brad
I think Providence is the best matchup, but we seem to own Georgetown. I'd be happy with either. Most importantly, none of the four is a season ending loss.

Joel
I think Georgetown is who I would like to see the most. I know it's hard to beat a team three times in one year, but we match up really well with them. I'd feel the worst about getting St. John's. They have big, athletic guards, they can run, they can shoot, and the tournament is being played on their home court. None of that sounds like a recipe for success to me.