We’ve already had a look and seen that Xavier seems to be in, if not in with room to spare. Today is the equivalent of a Christmas spent with your parents forcing you to look at all the presents wrapped under the tree, waiting until a set time in the evening to open them. And, much like Christmas, it invariably seems like the payoff can’t live up to what you’ve built it up to be, and yet it always does. Like children starting at the tree and waiting for the appointed time, the only thing we can do is talk about what might be in all those shiny boxes.
Brad: So, a week on from feeling pretty morose, it's hard not to have some optimism now. X finally showed some real fight the last two games they played. That brings us to the big question of the day: where do you think Xavier lands at 6pm?
Joel: I think out of Dayton but probably a double digit seed. I'm honestly fine with that; I think we're figuring things out with Tre in a post-Ed world to an extent that we can punch with a six or seven seed on a neutral court. The twos and threes look pretty intimidating, but that's a bridge to cross when we reach it, right?
Bryan: I think we can be dangerous as an 11 seed, which is where I see us landing. We showed that we still have the upside to give people a run. The fact that we gave Creighton such a good game will factor in and push us up just far enough to get that bye.
Brad: I'm right in line with you guys. I think we're a 10/11 that avoids Dayton. I think that with the right matchups we scare a 6 or 3 we might come up against. I've been wrong before, but I don't see this as the team that has the firepower to pull the truly huge upset. Honestly, I'm just excited we're finally to the tournament.
Joel: It's the best time of the year, obviously. I think we can be a second weekend team if we figure out a way to string stops together. Tre has the potential to go ham and roll us through a couple of rounds if we don't let the other team answer every time down. We're not where we would have liked to be, but - in the context of everything that has happened this year - I don't hate how we're positioned.
Brad: Is there any other team that you're going to want to catch come Thursday or Friday? I had been hoping for Isaiah Johnson and Akron, but Kent State ruined that. I think Vermont and ETSU could play interesting first round games if they get underseeded, and I bear no real ill will toward Marquette. I'd like to see them get hot and see how far they can go on the back of nothing but threes.
Joel: I'll go for a couple of power conference teams that I think could get hot and make some noise. Oklahoma State is going to be underseeded because they've gone up and down and all around this year, but they've got the top offense in the nation. They shoot over 40% from three and fly to the glass. Their last game outside of the KenPom top 75 was before Christmas; this team is battle tested and has a great PG in Juwan Evans. They also can't defend a lick unless they're forcing turnovers, so who knows what they'll actually do.
The other is Wake Forest. They're a different team than the one Xavier beat early on. John Collins is a monster in the middle, and the whole team can really score. They're 8th in the nation in offensive efficiency... and 160th in defensive. They lost in the ACC tournament by allowing 99 points in 73 possessions to Va Tech. Wake scored 1.23 points per possession and wasn't even close enough to be playing high leverage basketball after the last media timeout. Both of those teams should play entertaining games.
Bryan: I gotta hope Syracuse makes it so we can watch their old man YMCA defense and their combover-sporting, flop sweating coach muck up the big stage with their incessant whining.
Ha! Fooled you all. I actually hate those guys. Who I do think is fun to watch is Derrick Walton and the Michigan Wolverines. They can score in bunches, despite a low tempo, take care of the ball at the 5th best rate in the nation, and are top 10 in FT and 2pt%. Plus Walton went bonkers on Minnesota with 29/5/9 on 15 attempts and a single turnover. They get my pick as a no-nonsense team that simply relentlessly executes in order to win.