Alright guys, we've made to the best part of the year. Conference tournaments- Selection Sunday- opening weekend, is there a better two weeks in sports? I'll be at work listening intently to the selection show, but before I had to work weekends we used to get pizza to watch the names fill in. Do you guys have any Selection Sunday traditions? Maybe more importantly, where do you expect Xavier to land tomorrow?
This is my favorite week of the year and it's not close. No selection Sunday traditions, but I've been taking off work and getting together with the same friends for years to watch the opening round games. This year we are heading to Vegas to do just that and cross it off the bucket list. I think Xavier is on the 3 line. Other teams have more good wins, probably due to more opportunities to get good wins, but more good wins nonetheless. Let's say we're a 2/3. What teams do we want to play? Want teams do we want to avoid?
I think we wind up on the 3 line when all is said and done as well. Just too many teams right around us who are still alive with chances to move up for us to dodge them all. As far as avoidance, Seton Hall seems to have our number, but Oklahoma and Michigan State scare me the most of anybody in the nation. MSU has a ridiculous three point percentage, a variety of weapons from the perimeter, and enough interior presence to not get run over by Farrnolds. Buddy is an animal at both ends of the court and I think Lattin is exactly the kind of athletic big that gives us trouble, not to mention the supporting cast they have of guys who can carry the mail if need be.
I think we'll get a three, and I kind of hate it. A one losing is a rip in the space-time continuum. A two going down is less unprecedented but still a holy crap moment. 14 over 3 is interesting, but it's not mind-blowing. I would have loved the safety of a top two seed, but it's probably not going to happen.
As far as our kryptonite, I'm worried about a team with a big, strong lead guard and athletic bigs who hit the offensive glass. Our defense can survive a driver if our big men can help out, but that necessarily pulls Farrnolds out of position on the glass. What that happens, athletic big men will beat them and/or Tre to boards and recycle possession. That's a nightmare; our defense is predicated on killing possessions on the glass.
As much as I hate to admit it, a 3 let's us avoid Kentucky who I think would be a bad matchup for us. There are 2 seeds I probably wouldn't like to see but no one who really scares me. None of the teams in play for a 6 seed scare me either. I think if we play well we go to the sweet 16 relatively easily and from there were as talented as anyone we face we just need to make our shots and play our game.
Sports Illustrated still has us on the two line with UC in the second round. That's a matchup I'd love to get; it's a rivalry game, but we're just better than them this year. Is Seton Hall really such a bad matchup thay our complete failure to execute against them shouldn't rattle my faith that we can make a deep run? If that's the case, I feel okay with a three. If we have it in us to just be bad like we were in that first half, I think I would really like a two seed to feel good. I still can't quite figure this team out.
Most years I'd like to avoid rivalry games as the favorite in the tournament, but UC doesn't scare me one bit. I think we'd handle them easily just like we did back in December.
As for Seton Hall, I was pretty disheartened immediately after the game but upon some reflection I'm not too worried about it. They are clearly a bad matchup for XU, and a bad matchup that's playing like a top 10-15 team at that. Some perspective: In 2008 we lost twice in the 10 days before selection Sunday days to an average St. Joes team. In 2004 we got swept by a Duquesne team that went 12-17 while in the A-10. Every team has bad matchups but when judging whether or not a team can make a run its better to analyze them at their best then at their worst, and Xavier is clearly one of the best 10 (or better) teams when they're at their best.