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Sunday Conversation starts out with basketball, gets distracted by brackets and snark

Xavier pulls a one seed in the pretend bracket, thanks in part to some super dodgy officiating.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Joel

I don’t even know what to say about this team right now. Tre went off against Butler to take us to an overtime victory on the road. Then he just completely vanished against Creighton and Khyri Thomas, but the rest of the team - most notably Q - picked up the slack to get that game across the line.

Let’s leave off the discussion of the refs for a moment here and talk about what this game meant to Xavier. When the polls come out, they’ll probably be ranked as high as they have ever been. When the bracket thing drops - and it may already have by the time we publish this - they’ll probably be a one seed. This may be the best X has even been in mid-February, and they’ve got two huge resume games at home this week.

Bryan

As big as the wins this week were, the ones this week could be even bigger. Seton Hall is slumping and need a win to get back over .500 in conference play, Nova has wobbled a bit the past two games and will obviously want to get us back into the rearview.

This is probably the best Xavier has been to this point in the season, and the best part is that, barring injuries, it looks sustainable. We don’t rely on only one or two guys, we don’t count on making an inordinate number of threes, and we play defense to force and rebound misses, not create tons of turnovers.

Brad

I love everything you’ve said but... I’m worried about Trevon. He’s doing generally what he always does by becoming almost purely a shooter which means when it’s not dropping he’s not offering us much. I was pleasantly surprised to see him rebound well tonight, but that last close out was just begging for a (bad) foul to be called. Someone tell me this is just fatigue clouding my mind.

Joel

He didn’t bathe himself in glory, but he was 3-5 from inside the arc, rebounded well, and picked up 4 assists. He was also playing in a game in which his team had the obvious advantage in the lane and he was being guarded by Khyri Thomas, who is widely recognized as one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. I’m inclined to give him part of a pass here.

The caveat to that is that he may have to play against a dominant perimeter defender in the tournament, and we’ll probably need him to be able to find a way into the game. His thing generally is that he just keeps shooting; he didn’t exactly kick the down the door of the Butler game, but he came on strong late because he kept lifting. Against Creighton, JP kept lifting (for reasons I couldn’t entirely discern). With the 0-4 he dropped against Creighton, Tre is still 12 of his last 23 beyond the arc. This is just fatigue clouding your mind.

Brad

See, I’m more inclined to give JP a pass here because he looked like himself again. Sometimes that means a long string of 26 foot heat checks when you obviously aren’t hot. I’ll sign up for 15/9/2 from JP every game.

But he was involved in something that really caught my ear last night. According to the announcers, who I actually thought were pretty good, Coach Mack likes JP’s edge but warned him about paying too much attention to “his posse.” First, what? JP has a posse? Second, I wonder if he took a bit of a slapping from his coach after his recent malaise. Coach Mack has shown time and time again that there’s no one he’s afraid to correct and I wonder if that resonates particularly well with someone of JP’s ilk.

Joel

I think we’re deep enough to make the second weekend without having both of those guys hitting, but I think they’ll both need to be playing well for Xavier to make a deep run.

Speaking of the tournament, the sneak peek thing had Xavier as the 1 seed in the Midwest, playing at Omaha. Auburn was the 2, Clemson the 3, and Oklahoma the 4. How does that hit you?

Bryan

Clemson has a big week coming up here to see exactly who they are without Grantham. They took down UNC without him, but so did Wofford. Auburn doesn’t turn the ball over and shoots really well from the line, which makes them a threat in any game, but they don’t have a ton of experience and rely more on blocks and steals than rebounding on defense, which can be a problem if the whistles go against you. Don’t know anything about Oklahoma. Haven’t heard of them or any of their players, so they are a complete mystery to me.

Brad

Where is Missouri? A second round matchup with Porter Jr scares me. I’ve been watching ESPN, didn’t Oklahoma already win it all this year?

Joel

I didn’t see where Missouri was, but I’m with you in not wanting to see any part of Michael Porter, Jr. I think what I really got out of this is that Xavier’s is well-positioned to take on just about any threat. I’m not saying X will beat whomever is in front of them, but that - aside from a team that shamelessly and effectively rains from three - there’s not a team that we don’t at least have a potential answer for. That’s a good feeling.