While the Big East got seven teams into the NCAA Tournament this season, perhaps the most surprising of them all made it the furthest in the Big Dance. Squarely on the bubble heading into Selection Sunday, the Xavier Musketeers played their way to the Elite Eight as an 11-seed.
Losing six straight games before getting a huge win in the Big East Tournament over Butler, it wouldn’t have shocked anybody if Xavier wasn’t included in the 68-team field. But once they did get in, the Musketeers did what they seemingly always do…win NCAA Tournament games, regardless of their seeding.
“I don’t see Xavier as a Cinderella program, they live in the Sweet 16,” said the Providence Journal’s Kevin McNamara. This was the Musketeers fourth Sweet 16 appearance in eight seasons under Chris Mack.
“Xavier has been a consistent winner for a long time, even before Mack got the job in Cincinnati,” McNamara continued. “If [Edmond] Sumner was healthy the entire season, they had a Final Four type team, they were playing that well for the first two and a half months of the season.”
Now, Sumner is leaving for the NBA, and NCAA Tournament star Trevon Bluiett might be right behind him. Nobody will expect Xavier to get as far next season, leaving some fans to wonder if they missed out on a Final Four run because of Sumner’s injury.