March Madness is in full force now. If your'e a Big East fan, today will be a delicious serving of some good games. Picking up the tail end of today's four games at the Garden is No. 22 ranked Butler versus Xavier. Here's three storylines heading into tonight's showdown:
1) Can the Staintrain keep on track?
Xavier Center Matt "The Staintrain" Stainbrook got himself back on track in the season finale at Creighton this past Saturday. After four consecutive games failing to score over eight points in any of them, he exploded, dropping not only a season high, but a career high in points. He put up 26 points and snatched down nine boards in a must needed win for the Muskies against the Bluejays.
In his two games against Butler this year, he has had two different performances. At Butler in early January, Stainbrook scored his second-highest point total of the year, going for 21 points and grabbing five rebounds. That was all in a losing effort for the Muskies. Over a month later in a complete thrashing by the Musketeers over Butler, 73-56, Stainbrook only scored four points and brought down one rebound.
Apparently, it would not seem to matter which Stainbrook shows up tonight, since he did poorly in their blowout win and great in their double-digit loss against the Bulldogs. However, Xavier needs all they can get from the Staintrain tonight. When he is playing at the top of his game, it makes X a much harder team to beat.
2) Andrew Chrabascz is back for Part 3.
The Butler big man gave the Musketeers fits in their first meeting. Luckily for the X-men, Chrabascz was out with a broken wrist in their reunion, and Xavier cruised over Butler. In that first meeting, Chrabascz had his second highest point total of the season going for 19 points, while hitting two big three-pointers. He was a big part of why Butler won that game and it was obvious they needed him the second time around when he was out with the wrist injury.
Chrabascz is back for the threequel, but will his impact on the game be the same as the first time these teams played? I guess we will have to see, but I don't see him going for 19 again. He is still working his way back from the injury and is currently wearing a brace on his right wrist. However, just his presence alone for Butler will be an added boost in their hopes to advance over Xavier tonight.
3) This game is more important for _____ and here is why:
According to ESPN Braketologist Joe Lunardi and his latest mock bracket, both teams are safely in. Butler is sitting cozy at a 6th seed and Xavier at a 8th seed. Xavier is currently avoiding any bubble talk, but they do themselves no favors if they lose tonight. This game is much more important for Xavier, because if anything they need to go into the tourney with some momentum.
Butler has proven themselves time and time again this season and their 22-9 record speaks for itself. Xavier, on the other hand, is just 19-12, and they have a chance to grab a 20th win. If they lose tonight the farthest they would slip would most likely be to a 10 seed. If they win tonight, they have a chance to increase their seeding to a 7th. And to be 19-13 after a loss tonight still makes me feel a tad uneasy on Selection Sunday, even though I know they should still make the field of 68.