The tournament is finally upon us, and everybody who is anybody (plus a lot of people who are nobody) is throwing in his two cents on each region (ours will be coming today and tomorrow). For Xavier fans, the most pertinent of those previews are all regarding the East Region, since that's where the Muskies are. Rather than make you click all over the internet (or have to execute a simple Google search), we've culled the finest from far and near and dumped them below for you.
This one is kind of a weak leadoff because it doesn't even mention X, but you might find the below pertinent:
Upset special: No. 14 Stephen F. Austin over No. 3 West Virginia. The Lumberjacks went 18-0 in their conference. Yes, it's not the Big 12, but neither was it the Atlantic 10 (77-75 overtime win over VCU in 2014) or Pac-12 (57-50 loss to Utah in 2015). SFA knows how to play in this event.
I'd love to knock off Huggy Bear, but I also wouldn't mind ducking a potential run-in with that press.
Chattanooga over Indiana in the first round: The Hoosiers are a talented program; that Big Ten title proves as much. Tom Crean's squad could advance to the second weekend and perhaps beyond that. But Chattanooga has forced turnovers on 20.3 percent of its opponents' possessions (54th per KenPom.com). Interesting because the Indiana team it will see in the first round has committed turnovers on 19.8 percent of its possessions (283rd). Now, that doesn't mean Chattanooga can stop this Indiana offense or withstand the Big Ten's third-ranked per-possession defense. But this could be an interesting game.
Two major outlets, two non-mentions of Xavier. At least they aren't predicting us to get upset!
Best potential regional final game: North Carolina-Xavier. Musketeers would be shooting for first Final Four in school history; Tar Heels trying to get there for the first time since 2009.
X-factor: Has to come from X, right? That would be freshman guard Edmond Sumner, the deluxe athlete who dropped 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds on Villanova but then scored a total of five points in his next two games. If he's locked in, he's a tough matchup for anyone.
Now we're talking. Give me a shot at anyone in the regional final and I'll be happy to roll the dice with it.
11. Xavier Musketeers
If you thought the Sweet 16 appearance that Xavier made a year ago was nice, you ain't seen nothing yet. Coach Chris Mack returned from last season's surprising postseason success with the best team of his tenure, one that spent most of the season not only guaranteed of a return to the NCAA tournament but also in contention for a No. 1 seed. Deep and balanced with great guard play? Beast-mode rebounding up front? A dude named Myles Davis? Xavier has it all.
This isn't strictly about the East Region, but I'm the kind of soft-hearted dude who gives ESPN a chance to redeem itself.
Xavier has been fighting for respect all season, but it won't find it at the NCAA Tournament. Both Wisconsin and Pitt have the talent to knock the Musketeers out in the second round, and even if Xavier reaches the Sweet 16, they likely will have a tough time getting past either Notre Dame or West Virginia.
Hey, screw you, campusinsiders.com.
It's a slideshow, so I linked you right to the good stuff:
Last Two Standing: No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Xavier
The East Region is tough and there will be plenty of great games that will take place. That doesn't mean it won't result in chalk, though. No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Xavier should both come out of this part of the bracket for the Elite Eight.
No. 3 West Virginia over No. 2 Xavier
In hindsight, West Virginia's matchup with Stephen F. Austin might be the team's most difficult matchup before the regional final.
THREE STORYLINES TO WATCH
Xavier's guard play: There are two major question marks in regards to this Xavier team: Can they handle a team that is going to press them, and can they slow down a team with a dynamic point guard? And while the Musketeers got a good draw through the first weekend, they're looking at a matchup with Notre Dame (Demetrius Jackson) or West Virginia (Press Virginia) in the Sweet 16. That's not ideal.
I can't imagine either of those teams is looking at a potential matchup with X and thinking, "Ideal."
The champion of the Midwest Region will be ... No. 2 Xavier. Seldom has there been a No. 2 that will be as picked against as this year's Musketeer team, but I'm going with Chris Mack's group because it's super balanced, very deep, very tough, runs a great array of defensive schemes and has athletes down low who can bang. It's been a wild year, and UNC has the weakest resume of any No. 1 seed. The Tar Heels have faltered plenty this season. They enter the field as a trendy national champ pick, but if you look at this quadrant, there are land mines everywhere.
So why not Xavier?
Let's end on that one.