Was that an unconvincing win? Was it a comprehensive domination let down by quitting on the game too early? Or was it a poor performance propped up by one extended run? How should that game leave me feeling heading into single-elimination play?
I think it's pretty clear we don't match up terribly well with Creighton. Combine that with 11 minutes from Ed, a clear letdown after we thought we had the game won, the week layoff, and the fact that we did hang in and win and I'm not too worried. On the other hand, it takes one letdown like that and a team making a few more free throws to leave us all pondering where it all went wrong.
Yeah, that kind of worries me. We have it in us to lock down a team, but we also have it in us to fade from a game. On the other hand, 26-4 in a major conference isn't a hateful way to end a season.
Realistically, we should be favored to make it to the final. We're 6-2 against the teams that we could play in the first two rounds of the tournament. My only concern is that we might run into someone a bit more desperate than we are, in that we're not very desperate at all in terms of tournament position. Gun to your head, is Xavier going to the Big East Tournament final?
It will be interesting to see what Coach Mack makes of that one in the press conferences, because he seemed pretty unhappy about a lot of it. Creighton was desperate today and executed their gameplan about as well as they could, even getting Reynolds and Sumner into foul trouble, and we were still able to beat them. The defense was worrying because it is becoming pretty obvious that we don't have very many good man to man defenders, but Creighton kind of got this game where they wanted it toward the end and X still finished them off.
I think X will make the final of the BE Tourney, because these guys know they have a golden opportunity to write their own chapter of X history. You can already tell the pride they take in playing in the Big East and I think the chance to become the first X team to win a Big East Championship will have them focused and excited to play. When their minds are there, this is a really, really good team and so I am hoping for something like their showing in Orlando, where they got the job done in a big way.
I hope their minds are there the rest of the way then. I'd love to end the year with an undefeated record in tournaments.
Speaking of tournaments, two teams have already punched their tickets in vastly different ways. Yale ground out a 14-game season in the Ivy League for their auto bid, winning the conference outright at 13-1. With no conference tournament, the regular season champ gets in.
Meanwhile, Austin Peay was 7-9 in the OVC and captured the 8 seed in an 8-team tournament. They then beat the 5 seed, the 4 seed, the 1 seed, and the 2 seed on four consecutive days to earn the conference tournament championship and capture the automatic bid.
Conference tournaments provide a better spectacle. Giving the auto bid to the season champ makes it more likely that your best team gets into the NCAA tournament. Which do you prefer?
I was pondering that this morning. I like the spectacle of the conference tournament, but I'd rather see the conference champs make the NCAAs. It's fun for Austin Peay, but no one really thinks they're better than Belmont. Now I'm thinking about watching teams from the Colonial or MEAC go crazy when they get in. I don't know which is better.
It ends up being a 340 or so team single-elimination tournament played out over the course of six weeks. If you're good enough, they throw you back in for the last six rounds to fill out the bracket for the rest of the way. It's the best spectacle in sports. Unfortunately, some of the teams whose seasons probably merited entry to the last six rounds got eliminated before that.
I think the conference tournament just adds to the spectacle and makes it all the more important to schedule well in non-Conferece. I love that in these smaller conferences, everyone knows that there is no life after conference tourney time if they don't get it done. It makes for some great watching and gives less heralded kids and programs a chance to shine. It might not give us the 68 best teams, but it does give us lot of basketball that is really fun to watch, which is all I am in it for anyway.