K-State got the better of Xavier earlier this season. That was then. This is now, and this game is on neutral court. The Wildcats out-rebounded Xavier 39-30 in the win. McLean played 17 minutes and Taylor logged four.
Xavier has earned 20 NCAA Tournament berths, including last year’s Sweet Sixteen run and Elite Eight showings in 2008 and 2004. St. Joe’s has made 19 appearances five under Martelli) in The Dance. The Hawks advanced to the Elite Eight in 2004.
Jockeying for an at-large bid is always a concern this time of year. The Gators face an uphill battle in the upcoming SEC conference tournament having to face Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee. Xavier’s plight is no easier. The A-10 has been ranked as high as fifth by the RPI.
Xavier ranks twentieth in tha nation scoring 80 points per game. Dayton holds opponents to 62 points. The Flyers have out-rebounded opponents by 9.9 over the last eight games. Dayton is 13-3 when winning the war on the boards. Xavier’s reound margin is 3.7.
Rhode Island and Xavier rank 15th and 16th in the CBS RPI poll. Rhode Island’s strength of schedule is rated 51st in the country. Xavier’s slate is ranked third.
It’s a battle for first place in the Atlantic 10 at 1776 N. Broad Street as Chris Mack’s Xavier Musketeers (12-5/4-0) take on Fran Dunphy’s No. 16 Temple Owls (15-3/3-0).
Xavier leads the all-time series 1-0. The Muskies downed the Deacs in the second round of the 1999 NIT Tournament, 87-76. Xavier has made eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament over the last nine seasons including two Elite Eight finishes (’04 and ’08) and a spot in Sweet Sixteen last season. Wake Forest has made 21 appearances in the tournament with one Final Four showing, seven occasions in the Elite Eight, and Sweet Sixteen showings.
After a season where both of these teams won their respective conferences, LSU and Xavier each need to prove themselves. LSU is looking up at a revived Kentucky program while Mississippi State and Ole Miss have also improved. Xavier will need to knock off Temple and Dayton to win their fourth consecutive A-10 title.
Rumors of the Atlantic 10’s demise appear greatly exaggerated, at least for now. After a sluggish November characterized more as opportunities lost rather than seizing chances, the A-10 seems to have landed on its feet. In a pair of intra-city rivalries, Xavier downed Cincinnati, 83-79 in a double overtime classic, and Temple took down Villanova