Fox Sports 1's Donny Marshall and Steve Lavin assessed Xavier's costly Big East Tournament first-round loss to Butler on Wednesday night, and agreed that the Musketeers suffered significantly this season from a stretch between Jan. 11 and Feb. 12 in which they played just one game (a win, ironically, at Butler) because of issues related to COVID-19.
"This team this season can say, 'We hit some bumps. We had two really bad injuries. We missed almost a month of basketball.' Every team can say that," Marshall said during FS1's postgame show after XU's 70-69 overtime loss. "But your concern is what happens with your team. And when you lose veteran guys - listen they lost two guys who transferred in who were upperclassmen. That hurts. Now you put more pressure on Paul Scruggs to be that kinda alpha male. He was much better with those other two players around. Then you put pressure on guys who aren't used to having that pressure. This is a team that could not afford the herky-jerkiness of a college basketball season that we've had. Some teams are built a little better to be able to fight through that. This Xavier team just couldn't figure out how to keep themselves going. ... An 85 percent free-throw shooter, and you reach in. It's not like you're out of position - it was a reach. That's - again - it's the mental, it's those attention to details that I think a lot of teams that fall by the wayside have struggled with all season. ... I don't see them in (the NCAA Tournament). You think about other teams around the country - even in this conference, a team like St. John's. I do not think that they have done anything - especially in the last eight games - that would say they still have a foot in."
"And disappointing because - if you're a Musketeer fan - the season started with so much promise," Lavin added. "I mean they were rolling. 11-2. And I think they're an example of a team that really was hurt by the long layoff - the disruption. And again, a number of teams have had to deal with that. Not making an excuse, but just they are a case where they lost their momentum after that great start. And they've never been the same team since. ... In my book, they're out (of the NCAA Tournament)."
Mike DeCourcy assessed the Muskies' NCAA Tournament at-large bid chances:
"Well it pretty much puts them in a category of needing a Tulsa miracle to get in. What I mean by that is, in 2016, Tulsa was so far out of every projected bracket that even the players on the Tulsa team didn't think they were getting in. They tweeted that they didn't think they were getting in. During the selection show, they went to the mall or something. That's Xavier's hope is that they come completely off the board. Because with this loss, they now have five losses against non-tournament teams. They still only have the one Quad 1 win. They closed with three consecutive losses. ... When you are on the bubble, how you play at the end matters because it becomes almost like a single- or double-elimination tournament for you. And if you give them three losses in a row, they're gonna say, 'OK, let's look elsewhere for a team that is winning its way into this deal.'"
The 1984-85 season was the last time both Xavier and the Cincinnati Bearcats failed to earn NCAA Tournament bids.
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