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Tournament play starts today

Here is what you have been waiting for since March 19th, 2022

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Xavier Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Any time the Cleveland Guardians/Indians make the baseball playoffs the best radio announcer in the game, Tom Hamilton, yells, “Cleveland, you will have an October to remember.” It’s a rite that has not in any way been diminished with time. It means, excitement, shredded nerves, and that desperate hope that this is the time it all breaks right.

Xavier fans have been missing that gleefully horrid feeling for the last four Marches. Yes, a run through the Big East tournament has technically been possible, but we have generally entered it with serious work to do in order for a March to remember to be a thing. The season Xavier was closest ended in the weird emptiness of MSG and a pandemic that shut down a season and the world. Last season’s NIT run was exciting, but it was an off Broadway play. Fun, but not quite the real thing.

This year, it’s different. Xavier will be in the tournament. Xavier is very, very good. Are they Final Four good? Maybe, if you squint a little and the matchups break just the right way. It doesn’t matter if they actually are, though, because the very possibility that they could be is enough. For the next month we are going to live and die every time a Souley Boum three cuts through the air, Adam Kunkel contorts his body in the lane, or Colby Jones starts to back in from the short corner. There will be no easy games, no calm breaths, no chance to exhale.

The Big East tournament is the most iconic conference tournament and Xavier is playing in it. The NCAA tournament is the biggest spectacle in American sport and Xavier will be playing in it. I don’t know how this will all end, it may be the pure joy of an unexpected run, it may the bittersweet disappointment of going as far as you reasonably can, it may be heartbreak. The one thing I know for sure, though, is that Xavier Nation, you will have a March to remember.