Catholics go Dancing:
XU vs. Notre Dame
As the collegiate basketball regular season and conference tournaments came to an end, many Xavier basketball fans might have been worried that the men's team might not get a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. However, on Sunday Greg Gumbel announced to the nation that the Musketeers will be a No. 10 seed playing the seventh seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first round. The game will be played this Friday in Greensboro, N.C. After starting off the season hot, the Musketeers have shown major inconsistencies. They were able to end the season with a record of 21-12 and lost in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament championship to St. Bonaventure on Sunday. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost by 14 to the Louisville Cardinals in the semi-finals of the Big East tournament this past weekend but ended the season with a 22-11 record. Notre Dame played 12 teams in the RPI top 50 and went 7-5 against them while the Musketeers went 3-4 against teams in the RPI top 50 this season. Even though the Irish have played five more teams in the RPI top 50 than Xavier and fared pretty well against them, it is important to note that four of Notre Dame's losses came from teams outside of the RPI top 100. It is clear that senior Tu Holloway and junior Mark Lyons combine to make one of the toughest backcourts in the country to contain.
Holloway is averaging 17 points per game and Lyons is averaging 15.5 points per game. This dynamic duo might give Notre Dame's guards more than they can handle.
This season Holloway is in every spot on the stat sheet by being the team leader in scoring, free throw percentage, steals, assists and minutes played. His passion and leadership could help propel Xavier to play at their full potential as he attempts to bring Xavier a more successful finish this season. The Musketeers have also lost and struggled in certain games due to their lack of production from the free throw line. The team has shot 69.2 percent from the line this season. Much of the Musketeers scoring
opportunities come from chances at the charity stripe, so it is crucial for them to perform well in this aspect.
The Fighting Irish, unlike the Musketeers, do not run deep on the bench. If the Musketeers are able to find ways to get Notre Dame into foul trouble they can knock them off of their normal game causing them to change their game plan.
A rising star commanding the Irish is sophomore guard Jerian Grant. This season Grant has averaged 12 points per game and leads the team in average assists by dishing five per game. Containing Grant and getting him out of rhythm can also contribute to making Notre Dame feel uncomfortable out on the floor. Notre Dame's only returning "star" from last season is fifth year senior Tim Abromaitis, but he suffered
a season-ending injury. The 6-foot-9 junior Jack Cooley has been a solid replacement for Abromaitis and will be going up against senior Kenny Frease, attempting to shut him down.
Frease has had a strong offensive and rebounding game as of late. Frease leads the team in blocked shots and in rebounds by averaging six boards per game. The Musketeers production in the post game has seen some decline this season, so it is imperative that Frease keeps up his great efforts.
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