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Into the abyss we go

Nothing stands between us and March Madness but the gaping maw of winter

Ice Covered Pier on Lake Erie
You should visit here if you can
Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images

Gustav Holst wrote the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter in 1906. Conjuring images of bliss and falling snow, Holst ignored the reality that Christ was born somewhere where snow is exceedingly rare and temps are far more likely to be in the 50s and that winter is absolutely awful. Midwinter is indeed bleak, and this year it figures to be a bit more bleak than usual.

Both Ohio football teams are, as of yesterday, out of the NFL playoffs. That is only news in that the Cleveland Browns have finally made good on the promise of Baker Mayfield and were within a Chad Henne 14 yard scramble (words I never considered typing) of playing in their first AFC championship since even the oldest editors of this site were but wee lads. The Bengals persist in being the Bengals.

It is here where the comfort of Xavier basketball comes to the fore. There is nothing to be done for the strong of gunmetal grey days, snow perpetually falling, and temperatures that make your face hurt. This week in NE Ohio there was a day that could be meteorologically classified as sunny for the the first time since the week of Thanksgiving. That makes for heavy sledding for those craving the vitamin D boost of sunshine. Xavier basketball generally provides that same bit of mood brightening at least twice a week. For two and a half hours the fact that salt, snow, and dirt have combined to make every visible area a quagmire doesn’t matter. X is playing, and with them comes hope.

Most years. This season is different. Xavier is losing games at an alarming rate and now figures to go 16 days between appearances. Fans turning elsewhere for games find more cancellations, positive tests, and contests between teams that have played 11 games and teams that have played four. The usual steady rhythm of games in the midweek and games on the weekend has turned into a hesitant Twitter scroll for fear of further bad news.

There is light at the end of the longest two months of the year. March Madness will not be canceled this year. Pandemic, health, and public safety are lesser considerations to the NCAA than the fact they will be in dire economic straits if the tournament doesn’t happen. Thankfully, plans are already in place to mitigate the safety concerns and get the games in. For the next seven weeks until conference tournaments start all college basketball fans can do is look toward the middle of March and Indiana and know that things will be better then. All we have to do is get there.

Buckle up Xavier Nation. The only way out is through.