With the NCAA tournament only a week away from tipping off, it’s nervy times for the Xavier Musketeers. A loss to Providence hurt their chances of making the Big Dance but their last conference game really felt like a punch in the gut. At home, the Musketeers had Butler right where they wanted them. All they needed was one more stop for the win, but Xavier fans watched in horror as Kamar Baldwin knocked down a jumper in the final seconds to give Butler the 72-71 win. It was a crushing defeat which dropped the Musketeers to 19-12 and dropped them under Marquette in the standings, forcing them to play in the first round instead of a one round bye.
A two game losing streak has them right back on the bubble and they need an impressive showing in the Big East Tournament to steer the ship. According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, Xavier currently sits along with Richmond, Wichita State, and Memphis as the First Four Out. Chris Mack’s team is going to have to win a couple of games and hope that some of the teams in front of them falter. A run to the semi-finals would do them a world of good but it’s going to be a steep hill to climb. This has been one of the more all-around competitive seasons in the Big East and has set massive expectations for the tournament. It’s expected to be a slugfest between the top seeds in the tournament. Xavier will be hoping they can knock off their first round opponents then come up with a massive upset in the quarterfinals. It will be a long road ahead but it’s March and anything can happen.
Meanwhile for the DePaul Blue Demons, they are just looking to end the season on a positive note. The only way they are making the NCAA tournament is to make a grand run in the Garden and win it all. While it doesn’t seem impossible, the Blue Demons certainly have their work cut out for them. If they are able to get past Xavier, they have a date lined up with Villanova in the next round. It’s only going to get tougher from here.
After a good start to the season, it was a horrible run in conference for the Blue Demons. The wheels fell off and although they did upset a top five team in Butler, it wasn’t enough to stop their slide in the Big East standings. DePaul once again finds itself seeded last in the conference tournament. The challenge might only get harder as DePaul might be missing its best player. Paul Reed has been dealing with a hip injury for the past couple of games and is officially a game time decision in this one.
Xavier faces DePaul at 9:30 p.m. tonight in the Big East tournament.— Shannon Russell (@slrussell) March 11, 2020
Both teams have key players who will be game-time decisions: Paul Scruggs (hamstring) and Paul Reed (hip).
The winner faces second-seeded Villanova in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 9:30 ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul) || 700 WLW-AM (Xavier)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where streaming is available)
Odds: Xavier enters this game as a 6.5 point favorite (via Oddsshark.com)
Record ATS: DePaul (13-17-1) || Xavier (11-18-2)
O/U: The over/under is set at 133.
Last Time They Met
Xavier swept the series this past season. They won both at home and in Chicago to take both games. Overall this is their 27th meeting of all time and Xavier leads 16-10 in head to head. Tonight represents them a chance to go 3-0 against DePaul for the 2019-20 campaign.
By the Numbers
Xavier is ranked 43rd overall by KenPom with an Adjusted Offensive efficiency ranking of 106.2 (104th in the country) while boasting an Adjusted Defensive efficiency ranking of 91.8, good for 17th best in the country.
Meanwhile DePaul sit in just outside the Top 100, at 96th overall in KenPom. They have an Adjusted Offensive efficiency ranking of 103 (174th in the country) with an Adjusted Defensive efficiency ranking of 95.5 (56th in the country).