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Thursday morning news and notes

A quick roundup of a few Xavier loose ends from the week

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Providence Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

This is Xavier’s highest ever March NET ranking

Xavier is 19th in the NET this morning. The NET hasn’t been around long, so that means 19th is the highest Xavier has ever been in March. On March 10th (the closet date), 2019 they were 71st. In 2020 they were kicking around the bubble at 43rd. In 2021 it was 53rd. Last season they were 39th, but in complete free fall. (The NIT win brought them back up to 37th.) All that to say, Xavier has never been this high in the NET this late in the season.

Zach Freemantle won’t be playing Saturday

Unless something changes drastically, we won’t see Xavier’s elite big man for at least another week. Free isn’t back to practice yet and is still in a walking boot. With each passing day those two things remain the same, the likelihood of his return this year becomes more and more remote. It’s not impossible, to be sure, but it shouldn’t be counted on.

Xavier is not the most extreme team in the nation

Xavier’s offense is seventh in the nation, but their defense is wallowing down at 81st. That disparity obviously isn’t good, but it also isn’t an outlier. Toledo, hilariously, is 10th in offense and 274th in defense. 274th! Iowa’s offense is third, their defense is 153rd. Horizon league leaders Youngstown St have an offense worthy of a high major at 32nd, and a defense worthy of an AQ team at 267th. The best, though, is Stetson. The Hatters, yes, that’s really their nickname, are a respectable 40th in the nation on offense, but clock in nearly 300 spots worse at 334th on defense. That’s objectively hilarious. Rutgers and Mississippi St are third and fourth in the nation defensively, but clock in at 168th and 172nd on defense. All these teams make Xavier seem pretty well rounded.

Souley Boum has an argument for Big East player of the year

Tyler Kolek and Adama Sanogo are the front runners, but Xavier’s point man does one thing the other two don’t: score in buckets. Boum is 90th in the nation in offensive efficiency, plays over 35 minutes a game, has a turnover of just 15.1%, and is scoring 17 per contest. Sanogo is more efficient and Kolek runs Marquette’s high powered offense, but Boum has established himself as the premier scoring guard in the league and is carrying a team playing with just seven guys. Is it a sure thing? Of course not, but Souley has made quite an argument.

The officiating situation has to change

Last night’s crew of Jeff Anderson, Roger Ayers, and Tommy Morrissey was trash. There’s no getting around that the refereeing in college basketball is damaging a product that is otherwise far superior to any other basketball in the world. The crew that did last night’s game has combined to work 228 games this season. Ayers has appeared in 85. That’s 85 games in 115 days since the season started. That’s an incredible amount of work if you are doing it all at one place. Ayers isn’t though. In one ludicrous six day stretch he went from New York, to Dallas, to Philly, to Winston-Salem, to Boston, and back to Raleigh. No wonder he sucks at his job; the man must be exhausted. The NCAA needs to take over scheduling and assigning of officials.