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We’ve been here once before

Xavier has won big to open the season before, and things went downhill after that.

NC State v Xavier Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The last time that Xavier won a game by over 40 to open the eason, it wasn’t back in some sort of black and white age of basketball, it was in 2013. That season, the Musketeers obliterated FDU 117-75 to open the season. Brad Redford scored 19, Travis Taylor had 13 rebounds, and Dee Davis doled out 15 assists. Xavier shot 30-40 inside the arc, 13-21 from behind it. That ended up being worth 1.70 points per possession. What happened after that?

Well, it wasn’t good. Xavier started 6-1 before the wheels fell off. A 60-45 loss in the Shootout was followed by the infamous Jeff Robinson Wofford game. By the time the season ended, the Musketeers made no postseason tournaments after Isaiah Philmore missed a bunny and Xavier ended 17-14. The Musketeers were 78th in the KenPom and missed the tournament for the last time in team history.

Why bring this up now? Partially to temper expectations. Xavier probably won’t end the season ranked first in the nation in effective field goal possession offense and second in field goal possession defense. Nor is it likely that they win every game by 52 or finish the season shooting 57% from three point land.

But this isn’t all doom and gloom (after a 52 point win). Another difference between these teams separated by five years is the level of talent. That team featured Jeff Robinson, Erik Stenger, Isaiah Philmore (God bless him, he tried), and Travis Taylor. Good players were there, but even Semaj Christon and Justin Martin weren’t on level with guys like Elias Harden, Trevon Bluiett, JP Macura. This team is loaded with the kind of players that Coach Mack simply couldn’t get in his first year on the job.

So Xavier has blown a team out to start the season before, and things went badly after that. But this is a different team just finding the limits of their talent. They aren’t likely to lose four straight, miss the NIT, or play Landen Amos for large portions of important games. The Musketeers have come a long way since then, and they’ve got a lot of good ahead of them this season. When 2017-218 ends, one big win in November won’t be the high point.