Since the Georgetown loss I’ve been planning on writing a "don’t cancel the season" article, but it looks like Joel beat me to it. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’ll go ahead and add a couple of my own thoughts to what he has already said. Before I say start let me say this: I have been a fan of Cincinnati sports my whole life and as a result I am as big of a sports pessimist as you’ll find. Xavier losses in the past have put me in a rut and caused me to create doubts and worries about the team even when there was no need to doubt or worry. If I had a nickel for every time I thought the sky was falling for Xavier basketball I could quit my day job. With all that said, I have never been less concerned with a loss as I was on Tuesday and I feel totally confident in this team moving forward. Let me tell you why.
For years Xavier fans dreamed of playing in a competitive league, a league where the 5th best team could make the tournament instead of being LaSalle or Duquesne. Well, welcome to the Big East. In the Big East, short of a couple teams in the middle of rebuilding, every team has the athletes to go out and play well enough to beat you on a given night and that’s exactly what Georgetown did. It’s easy to focus on what some bad losses have done to Georgetown’s Kenpom, RPI, or BPI rating, but they were a Top 25 team to start the season for a reason. Their entire team is top 100 recruits with 3 or 4 being top 50, and a few more being top 25. When you’re a top 10 team you get everyone’s best shot every night, and when you get a team as talented as Georgetown’s best shot you better be ready for a battle, which we got. A team with top 25 talent caught us on a bad night and played their best game of the season to give us a loss. When you’re in a great conference it happens, but its absolutely better than the alternative of playing in a bad conference.
Joel touched on this in his article, but reason two to relax is because everyone has lost bad games this year. Kansas lost by 19 to Oklahoma State this week. Michigan State has now lost 3 straight, two of which came at home. North Carolina fell to UNI. West Virginia lost to Texas. Villanova got embarrassed by Oklahoma. Maryland lost to Michigan. Are any of those losses really better than losing to a Georgetown team with elite talent playing their best game of the year? No. Is there any reason to think that Xavier couldn’t match up with any of those top teams if they played tomorrow? Also no.
The third and final reason not to panic is because in the grand scheme of things the loss has little to no effect on Xavier’s biggest goal, which is a Final 4. In the past, a bad loss could be the difference between making the tournament and missing out, and perhaps that’s worth getting a little worried over. Furthermore, a few bad losses could be the difference between getting a 6 seed and playing a beatable team in the second round or getting a 9 seed and playing an elite team. Once again, a bit of a cause for worry. Well as of now Xavier has the luxury of not being a bubble team so the fans should enjoy it. Maybe losing this game causes us to get knocked from a 1 or 2 seed to a 3 seed, but is there really a team in the country this year who Xavier needs to get a high seed to avoid in March? I would say no. There are truly no elite teams, so seeding is less important than years past and Xavier will have a great shot at making a run regardless of who they play. We would all like to see Xavier get a 1 seed but realistically that doesn’t really make the road to a final 4 much easier or harder so there’s no use losing sleep over it.
Xavier is currently sitting at 16-2 with an RPI of 5 and has clearly exceeded even the wildest of expectations to this point. There aren’t many times as a coach when you’re satisfied enough with where your team is at to sit back, give a tip of the cap to the other team, and move on but that’s exactly what Chris Mack did in his post game press conference Tuesday. I would advise the fans to go ahead and follow suit because god knows there are plenty of college basketball fans and coaches across town who have something real to complain and worry about.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow me here: Follow @muskiemusings