Top 5 foes collided Wednesday night in Cincinnati and the Xavier Musketeers emerged victorious.
A winning effort was engineered by the play of Myles Davis, J.P. Macura and Edmond Sumner. The trio combined for 54 points to put the No. 5 ranked Musketeers over the top against the No. 1 ranked Villanova Wildcats, 90-83. After jabbing and trading blows for much of the first half, Xavier would pull away late in the second half with flashy plays and dunks galore, spearheading their way to a 25-3 record on the season.
Villanova's efforts were not enough as they regrettably couldn't make easy buckets all night and were stifled by foul trouble and ineffective defense. Kris Jenkins led all Wildcats scorers with 22 points on the night.
Here's what we learned.
1. Xavier is Final Four good
The Musketeers put on a heck of a display Wednesday night. But if you've been paying attention this year, you know already that this is what they're capable of when they're playing at their best. With an array of options around the floor, tough defense, rebounders galore and a dynamic offense, X is as legit as they come. And in the immortal words of Biggie Smalls, "If you don't know, now you know." Xavier is fully capable of getting to Houston in the first weekend of April, and that was learned - or reaffirmed - Wednesday night in Cincinnati.
2. Villanova can ill afford off nights from Josh Hart
Hart helped close out Villanova's last matchup against the Butler Bulldogs but was troubled against the Musketeers. Hart was unusually inefficient, shooting 4-for-13 from the field despite scoring 13 points on the night. That's out of character for him and you should expect him to bounce back quickly, but 'Nova simply can't afford him to have an off night going forward. If it happens at the wrong time, things could spoil very quickly for Jay Wright's 'Cats.
3. You will be agitated by J.P. Macura in March
Don't deny it in your heart. You might already be. J.P. Macura, Xavier's leading scorer on Wednesday night is the kind of player who, as Terrance Payne and Jeff Goodman remind us, would probably tee off the nation if he played down in Durham, North Carolina. But he plays in Cincinnati, Ohio and he is nothing short of a weapon for X. "Weapon X perhaps?" Chris thought to himself, before realizing he'd likely anger Philadelphia fans more. And maybe Brian Dawkins.
Aight. I'ma not do that.
Macura, though, is a terrific player off the bench for the Musketeers and proved pivotal Wednesday night. If he continues play like this, Xavier is as dangerous as they come.