Xavier is in trouble. Each day brings a successive new all-time low in the NET. The Musketeers now sit 91st, well adrift of the “cut line” of 38. Well adrift, even, of teams Duquesne, Cornell, Drake, and St. Bonaventure. There is no simple way to make this better, there is no sugarcoating, there is nothing here but a long, bleak, run through the winter. Xavier is in trouble.
This is the time to dig in, to answer the bell. UC comes to town untested but also undefeated. They’ve not faced a hostile crowd baying for blood or a team that cracks the top 100 in the KenPom. While Xavier has nearly beaten Houston and Purdue and beaten St. Mary’s on the road, they have struggled with also-rans like Delaware and Oakland, teams that won’t factor in come March. UC has played those teams as well; they have dispatched them summarily.
Xavier must win this game. They must win a lot of games coming up. There can be no more Q3 or below losses unless they also plan on ripping off seven or so Q1 wins. The non-con is done by the end of the month and Xavier currently has nothing to show for it. They need to beat the Bearcats to get something worth having from the first two months of the season.
If there is a time for this leaderless team to find a leader, this is it. Quincy Olivari has raged against the dying of the light the last three games. He needs to keep doing that. Dayvion McKnight is playing well with a weight in chest that most of us can only imagine. Beyond that, play has been sporadic. Gytis Nemeiska has alternated being brilliant and invisible. Des Claude has improved, but he’s not yet a star. Trey Green has struggled. Dailyn Swain has been good in flashes. Abou Ousmane has flattered to deceive.
Someone has to step up. It’s only the eighth of December, but time has run short on this Xavier season if there isn’t some marked improvement soon. It’s time to rally the troops. There’s no time left to waste. Starting on Saturday, Xavier is playing to save a season.