MUSKIES RUN INTO SENIOR NIGHT BUZZ SAW AT BUTLER!! BIG EAST 3RD STILL POSSIBLE!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier ran smack into a perfect emotional storm Tuesday at Butler. It was Senior Night and the Bulldogs were desperate for a win after losing 4 of 5-trying to avoid a Wednesday BIG EAST Tournament play-in game next week at MSG. BU won 71-66. XU played from behind down the stretch and never climbed the hill. Give BU credit! They played a little harder and stayed w/ more muscular XU on the glass and in the paint. Senior sniper Paul Jorgensen was the difference though. Coach Lavell Jordan gave him a rare start in his last game at Hinkle and he produced(19 points-5 rebounds-5 steals). Jorgensen has no conscience and loves to gamble. He rolled a 7 vs Xavier playing his best game since dropping 23 against Villanova in a huge upset over a year ago.
Kamar Baldwin was brilliant as usual. The Bulldog's super quick guard went for 24 points-6 boards-3 assists and 4 steals. Butler forced 15 XU turnovers w/ 11 steals netting them 4 more shots. BU outscored XU 11-7 at the FT line and sort of broke even on the boards. Naji Marshall kept playing after an early second half ankle twist, but could not push off like normal.
Paul Scruggs played his tail off in front of family and friends in Indianapolis, but he was called for a bogus palming violation w/ 5 minutes left and Xavier trailing just 58-55. Butler got the ball and Jordan Tucker pulled a Chad Tucker(old Butler player reference from the 1980's) and buried a fall away "3" to give the Dawgs a gift wrapped 6 point lead.
X was a step slow on 50-50 balls. Silver lining-Zach Hankins played a super game(12 points-9 rebounds-3 assists-3 blocks). He needed more shots(5-7FG).
NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!!
If Xavier wins, they go to 9-8 w/ a chance to finish solo 3rd in the wild BIG EAST by beating St Johns(Saturday 5PM-Cintas-BIG FOX TV 19). It's also an NCAA NET Quad 1 win for XU. Didn't happen!! Xavier's now in a 5 way tie for 3rd at 8-9 w/ Creighton, St Johns, Seton Hall and Georgetown. A win over St Johns means a lot for Xavier. 9-9 assures them of a first round BE Tourney bye next week and w/ tie breaks could give them the #3 seed.
Six teams over the five years of the New BIG East have completed the regular season at 9-9. 3 of those 6 have earned NCAA at large bids(Xavier twice in 2015 and 2017). X in those years padded their resume w/ two more wins at the BE Tourney in NYC. The same scenario might play out this season. Wins in the Quarterfinals Thursday and the Semifinals Friday might mean NCAA at large. 3 wins equals NCAA automatic bid,of course for winning the BE Tourney.
At 8-10 Xavier IMHO would have to win 4 games in 4 days at MSG for the automatic NCAA berth. At large chances slim to none even if they make the Finals Saturday. It's all speculation. One website listed 529 different BIG EAST seeding and match-up possibilities before the games played Wednesday.
BIG EAST LAST NIGHT (No games at the Biltmore)
Seton Hall rallied to sink Marquette 73-64.SHU went on an 18-0 run late. MU now is a game back of Villanova in the scrap for 1st placed. Marquette is melting down(3 straight losses). VU wins the title outright w/ a "W" Saturday at Seton Hall. MU must beat Georgetown in Milwaukee to tie Villanova at 13-5. DePaul clobbered Georgetown 101-69 in Chicago. Max Strus scored 30. G-town can't get to 10 wins now and could fall all the way to 7th w' a loss at Marquette. Creighton advanced to 8-9 w/ an overtime Omaha win over PC(76-70). CU blew a 16 point lead in regulation.
BOTTOM LINE FOR XAVIER!!
BEAT ST JOHNS then all things are possible!! X spanked the Johnnies 84-73 in Queens a week ago. STJ looked bad at DePaul last Sunday losing 92-83. Guard Mustapha Heron is nursing a sore knee. He did play at DePaul(11 minutes-8 points-2 for 8 shooting-fouled out) and he's had all week to rehab.
Hopefully, Naji Marshall is full go for ST Johns. He scored 30 against them on the road. Xavier has home court advantage and it's Senior Day(so long to the three grad transfers Hankins-Welage and Castlin). The Johnnies are desperate. NY fans want an NCAA berth. Coach Chris Mullen is under the microscope. STJ is very talented.
MUSKIE FUTURES REPORT:
Xavier signee Deionte Miles led his Walton Verona KY 8th Region Champs to a Kentucky Sweet 16 76-54 win over Knox Central Wednesday at Rupp Arena. Miles was double and triple teamed but scored 19 and blocked 7 shots. It's Walton Verona's first Sweet 16 trip since 1942 (before even Andy Mac was born) and their first win down state ever.
Walton Verona plays Campbell County Friday noon at Rupp in the Quarterfinals. Campbell County from Northern Kentucky upset 35-0 John Harden Wednesday 61-60 at Rupp.