The next time Xavier plays, it will be March. This is the month we spend the rest of the year waiting for. Here are some things I think about X right now.
- After dominating for a month straight, Tyrique was entitled to have a down game. Pretty nice of his buddies to pick him up with a season-best performance from behind the arc.
- Kyky Tandy is the real deal. Mark Lyons posted a 95.9 ORtg and shot 34.4% from deep as a freshman. Kyky - who reminds me a lot of Lyons - is currently putting up 96.2 and 35.1% in those same categories. Lyons panned out pretty well at Xavier, and I'm expecting big things from Kyky. Since he has been healthy, he has added a different element to the offense.
- Xavier is 7th in the nation in adjusted defense since January 21st. It would be nice if they hadn't spent the first portion of the Big East schedule not knowing how to play defense, but they're riding that surge right onto the right side of the bubble. It's fun to watch huge scoring runs, but zipping teams up is sure worth a laugh, too.
- X has quietly developed into something resembling a viable shooting team. They're 5th in the conference at 32.2% from behind the arc in Big East games. Paul Scruggs is shooting 40.7%, Kyky Tandy 36.8%, and Naji 33.3% in conference play, and Zach Threemantle deserves a shout for his 40.9%, albeit at a lower frequency than the above-listed dudes. I know it's not exactly a handful of Larry Birds out there, but X has a few guys who can knock one down for the team from time to time.
- Xavier currently has the 9th-toughest schedule in the nation when measured by opponents' ORtg, and they play the 25th, 82nd, and 26th offenses in the country in the final three games. X is 18th in adjusted defensive efficiency and just outside the top 50 in raw defensive efficiency, which is remarkable considering how many really good offenses they've played.
- Ultimately, I think this team's ceiling is somewhat self-limiting. The sky is the limit if they can make their FTs and stop turning the ball over, but I don't think it's realistic to hope they just flip a switch 28 games into the season that turns them into a team they haven't been all year. They'll probably lose a game to end the year in which you'll see how they could have taken their chances better and won it. If they've shown us one thing, though, it's that they'll go down swinging all the way. I'm here for it.