With March underway and Selection Sunday less than two weeks away. Xavier Basketball is entering the homestretch of their season. Having their best performances at the best time for a hot streak.
What a difference a month made for Xavier Basketball. The Xavier Musketeers were in the midst of a six-game losing streak when February began. They wrapped up February with a five-game winning streak. Not losing since snapping that streak until Tuesday night in Indianapolis. When the Musketeers lost their first game of March 71-66 to Butler Basketball.
Butler senior guard Paul Jorgensen had a strong senior night performance. Leading the game with five three-point field goals; a large sum of his 19 points overall. Fellow Butler guard Kamar Baldwin led the game with 24 points. This along with opportunities at the charity stripe helped Butler. Butler missed only two of their 12 free throws; Xavier missed four out of 11 by comparison.
Xavier kept the game competitive at various moments. Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs both scored a team leading 13 points each. Zach Hankins led the game with nine rebounds. Xavier won the battle of the boards with 36 rebounds compared to Butler’s 34. However, turnovers hurt the Musketeers, as has been the case throughout this season.
The peaks and valleys of Xavier’s Big East schedule could be measured through their Butler games. Xavier beat Butler by a single point back on January 13th. Erasing a double-digit deficit to win 70-69 in Cincinnati. In one of their most gritty games of the season. Xavier’s six-game skid began after that game.
Xavier’s week will conclude on Saturday against St. John’s Basketball. In the Musketeers regular season and home finale. Xavier will avoid a losing regular season regardless of Saturday’s result. They will go into their Senior Night game with a 16-14 record. Xavier beat St. John’s 84-73 last Thursday night in New York.
The Musketeers’ recent winning streak reversed their Big East Tournament prospects. Xavier had the worst conference record at one point during their skid. They began this week with an 8-8 conference record. Xavier is in position to potentially be the fourth seed in next week’s Big East Tournament. Something that seemed uncertain at one point last month.
Despite their recent hot streak, Xavier still has a hard case to make for an NCAA Tournament bid. Though that has been the case for Xavier since January. That bid will ultimately rest on how the Musketeers do in the Big East Tournament. They will likely need to advance to at least the semifinals to be seriously considered. A first round bye is still possible and would be helpful for Xavier.
This is the time of year where college basketball teams enter “survive and advance” mode. Xavier’s mid-to-late February turnaround reversed the trajectory of their season. Launching them suddenly back into a potential bubble team at an opportune time. After playing like a team that would struggle to qualify for the National Invitational Tournament. They will need to recapture the momentum produced by that turnaround on Saturday.
Xavier vs. St. John’s will tip-off Saturday night at 5:00 PM Eastern time on FOX.