When Xavier moved from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East, they went from being a big fish in a relatively small pond, to a conference in which they were unquestionably not the preeminent program. When Kris Jenkins knocked down a trail three pointer in the national championship to knock off UNC, he was simply finishing what most people already knew. Villanova was the undisputed best team in one of the best teams in the league. For Xavier to truly ascend to the top of the college basketball pile, they are going to have to knock off the Wildcats with some consistency. Here’s how those attempts have gone so far.
Feb 3rd, 2014: Villanova 81-58 Xavier
Semaj, Matt Stainbrook, and Justin Martin are all in double figures, but James Bell scores 27, Xavier shoots 37% inside the arc, turns the ball over 16 times, and in general looks like a team in no way prepared for the big time. Villanova 1, Xavier 0
March 6th, 2014: Villanova 77-70 Xavier
Justin Martin goes for 20, but a late rally comes up just short at the Cintas. Nova has four guys in double figures and shoots 41% behind the arc. As games go, though, this one is far more competitive than the first tilt. No points are awarded for being close, though. Villanova 2, Xavier 0
Jan 14th, 2015: Villanova 88-75 Xavier
Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds dominate inside, but Villanova rains down an unholy 15-34 from behind the arc. Xavier’s late attempt to make it into game can’t overcome the fact that they trail by 18 in a game that is essentially over at the half. Villanova 3, Xavier 0
Feb 28th, 2015: Villanova 78-66 Xavier
Jalen is again a beast with 15 and 6, but this time the Wildcats go 13-29 from behind the arc. Xavier holds a nine point lead in the second half, but it disappears under the Wildcat barrage. The lead burgeons out to 14 before the game mercifully ends. Villanova 4, Xavier 0
March 14th, 2015: Villanova 69-52 Xavier
What a treat, Xavier gets Nova in the Big East final. This one is a boatracing from start to finish. The Musketeers rally to make the Sweet 16, but nothing in this game hints that is coming. Villanova 5, Xavier 0
December 31st, 2015: Villanova 95-64 Xavier
The Big East breaks with tradition by not slating Georgetown against Xavier on NYE, and Kris Jenkins very nearly breaks Edmond Sumner. This game was done and dusted from the moment Xavier’s mercurial guard hits the floor. Any time players are crying as they prepare to start playing again, you know a loss is coming. No one bears any ill will, though, to young men who see a teammate land like that. Villanova 6, Xavier 0
Feb 24th, 2016: Xavier 90-83 Villanova
Finally! Sumner goes for 19/6/9 and a manner of revenge, JP throws in 19 of his own, and the Musketeers put six players in double figures in finally beating the Wildcats. This time, the Musketeers hold on to their halftime advantage, run the lead to 15, and hang on to win. Villanova 6, Xavier 1
So we enter today with Xavier on a one game winning streak, but trailing significantly in the overall Big East series between the teams. That one win serves some notice, though, that the Musketeers are ready to take steps toward knocking off Nova. For it to become a real rivalry, though, more than one win must be on the way.