These are truly heady days for the Xavier basketball program. A year after achieving the first #2 seed in school history, the Musketeers made only their third trip to the Elite Eight last season, capping a remarkable two year run which vaulted Xavier from a mid-major transplant to the Big East, to being top tier program in the nation. Two standbys of the previous two seasons, Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura are now back as that rarest of dying breeds in college basketball: major program seniors. Between Bluiett and Macura they have started 151 games for Xavier and piled up 2,722 points as well as being keys to two of the most successful seasons in school history. A hallmark of just how good Xavier has been over the two seasons has been that they have lost a grand total of 5 games to teams from outside the Big East Conference in that span: Wisconsin, Baylor, Colorado, Cincinnati, and Gonzaga. Starting tomorrow night with Wisconsin, Xavier takes their crack at avenging 4 of those losses this season.
Ask any Xavier fan their most heartbreaking moment following the team and you are bound to get a variety of answers. The ‘04 squad’s valiant charge finally coming short against Duke (and the referees), Stanley Burrell breaking down in the arms of Sean Miller as his storied career came to an end against UCLA, Ed Sumner being carried off at St. John’s, never to grace the Xavier uniform with his electrifying athleticism again, the list goes on (and is to sad to keep typing out). However, the highest ranked Xavier team of all time getting shocked by a NCAA tournament buzzer beater is sure to be up there. Many of the faces have changed since the last time these two programs met, but for Xavier fans the question of what may have been had Bronson Koening’s corner three not found the mark still lingers. Koening is not suiting up tomorrow, he has since graduated. Xavier put 3 players in double figures that night: Sumner, Remy Abell, and Jalen Reynolds, none of whom still turn out for the Musketeers. But for Bluiett and Macura, both stars of that decorated squad and now on the cusp of becoming Xavier legends, tomorrow night represents a chance, in the eyes of their fans, to exorcise the demons of the heartbreaking defeat, in some small way. Here is hoping it won’t be the last time they get revenge this season.