Xavier University (12Seed)
Record: 21-12 (10-8 Big East)
Coach: Chris Mack
Tournament Berth: Win and your in
Big Wins: Tennessee, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Marquette, Georgetown, Providence
Big Loses: Iowa, Creighton, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Tennessee, USC
Xavier opened the 2013-14 season by rattling off its first five games before a three-game skid in the November Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas that included losses to Iowa, Tennessee and USC. The Musketeers would then regroup once getting back to the States and go on a five-game game tear, highlighted by victories over Cincinnati and Wake Forest, to close the non-conference slate 13-3.
Xavier opened Big East play in promising fashion, taking five of its first six by double-digit margins before hitting a wall and dropping three straight to Providence, Seton Hall, and Villanova in a 23-point blowout on the road. The last third of the conference schedule was littered with losses, as the Musketeers struggled to string together wins and finished league play with a record of 10-8
F – Isaiah Filmore
F – Justin Martin
F – Jalen Reynolds
G – Semaj Christon
G – Dee Davis
Who’s Hot: Sophomore G Semaj Christon. Christon reached double-figures in scoring in all but three games this season and he’s averaging 19.4 in his last seven games, including a season-high 28 in the regular season finale against Villanova. He’s a playmaker that loves to create and dish as much as he likes to score, and everything Xavier does goes through him. He will need his A game for the Musketeers to even get in to the main field.
Who’s Not: Junior C Matt Stainbrook. Stainbrook strained a ligament in his left knee against Setyon Hall a couple weeks ago, and he apparently hasn’t fully recovered yet. He has posted 15 points and two boards in the two games he has played in since the injury after averaging 10.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg for the season. At 6-10 and 263 lbs, Stainbrook is a monster in the paint who can dominate the low post with sheer size. His injury is just bad-timing, however, as he’s desperately needed at full strength on a roster a little short on size.
Outlook: The Musketeers have to play their way into the main field Tuesday against an NC State team that beat Syracuse and Pittsburgh. If that’s not bad enough, the Wolfpack boasts the nation’s third-leading scorer in sophomore forward T.J. Warren, who averages 24.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg. He scored 30 or more points seven times this season and went over 40 twice. The book on Warren says he’s a next-level talent with the length, ball skills and athleticism to do just about anything on the court. Needless to say, Xavier looks to have drawn a short straw here and they’ll need major contributions from everyone to get into the field of 64.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat