You either step into the abyss or step back from it; you cannot walk along its edge for long.
This is where we are as Xavier heads to take on Providence in a mid-season Big East tilt. The Musketeers have lost six of nine and four of five. Only the quality of the wins that they have gotten are keeping them above water. Right now, Xavier is still easily an NCAA tournament team. The season, however, doesn’t end right now.
Step away from the numbers and the metrics and even the eye test. Basketball fandom is essentially about the way something makes you feel. Maybe it’s a connection to family, maybe it’s an alma mater, maybe you are just a disgusting front runner who cheers for Duke. Game day is spent in a state of nervous excitement or apprehension. The game itself comes with all manner of superstition, yelling, and tension.
That is being a fan. It’s the reason that I’m looking forward to tonight’s game despite the fact all the rational parts of my brain tell me it will likely end with me, like Matthew Davies, staring into oblivion. There will be a slow start, there will be some incredibly annoying stretch where the Musketeers cannot score, and at some point Colby Jones will inexplicably circle the basket in an apparent interpretive dance metaphor for a season going down the drain.
And that’s before the coaching decisions. At some point Adam Kunkel will get hot but won’t play 30 minutes. Zach Freemantle will play ad nauseum despite the fact he won’t go bang in the post and will instead do his approximation of the world’s worst three point specialist. Will Cesare Edwards play? Does Travis Steele remember Dieonte Miles? Could we maybe get Colby Jones a rest? Did we just spend 80 minutes talking about this yesterday? (Yes, listen below.)
But all this changes if Xavier wins tonight. That win would shut up the incredibly annoying Providence fans, end any question about Xavier’s participation in the NCAA tournament, and provide a solid point that this team can beat anyone. While being a fan can be incredibly aggravating (and our comments and page hits seem to suggest you all thrive on misery), it can also bring moments of happiness that life itself can’t deliver on a weekly basis.
So please win tonight, guys. Xavier Nation is walking on the edge of the abyss. It won’t take much of a push to send us all over.