O’Mara Came Out of Nowhere to Propel XU Past Maryland, Now The Noles Await the Muskies
By: Craig James
The Xavier Musketeers advanced onto the round of 32 after a 76-65 victory over the Maryland Terrapins Thursday night. Contributions were needed from everybody that stepped on the floor for the Muskies, and boy did they get them.
First off, you have to start off with Trevon Bluiett, without him, advancing in March is not possible. Lately it takes Trevon a little bit longer in the first half to get going than Musketeer fans and Chris Mack would like. But man, when he gets going does he get going. The guy goes unconscious for stretches of the game where he literally doesn’t miss. That happened again against Maryland and Bluiett ended up with 21 points on 7-15 shooting.
The majority of these points came in the second half at key moments in the game. The performance of Sean O’Mara was flat out incredible and probably the most unexpected great performance in the history of anything. O’Mara, since arriving at Xavier, has shown glimpses of what he did last night, but never on a consistent basis and never for an entire game. There was a solid week or two stretch this season where O’Mara travelled or got called for a charge literally every time he touched the ball. Not last night though, last night O’Mara was dunking on fools. He finished with a career high 18 and the Muskies probably don’t advance without his performance. This performance reminded me of the performances of Anthony Myles on the ’04 Elite 8 team Xavier had.
Myles, much like O’Mara, had always showed glimpses of being an above average big man, but never really put it together till that magical March run. During that Elite 8 run Anthony Myles was huge; the Musketeers were eventually knocked out by Duke that year. Musketeer fans are tough on Sean O’Mara, no doubt, but last night was a big step forward for him. Let’s see if he can repeat this performance against the big men of Florida State.
Other huge performances were, Quentin Goodin, who delivered 9 points and 9 assists and Kaiser Gates, who finally knocked down some threes. Gates misses more open threes than anyone I’ve ever seen in a Muskie uniform, but hey it’s March so it’s all positive thoughts right now! Xavier played great defensively. Switching between man and some type of zone almost every other possession it felt like. This had Maryland all out of whack. All in all, a great team performance.
So let’s look forward to Saturday night’s matchup with #3 seed Florida State.
Florida State enters the big dance finishing the year second in the ACC. I think we can all agree the ACC was by far the best basketball conference this season. The Seminoles can score, and score a lot. They average 82.6 points per game this season. They have three guys that average double digits a game. While FSU scores a lot, you would think they can shoot the 3 ball well, but that’s not the case as they shoot it 35% from behind the arc.
Their best player is Dwayne Bacon. A sophomore averaging 17.1 ppg. We can all agree bacon is awesome, but for Musketeer fans we hope Bacon is not awesome on Saturday night (see what I did there?).
Florida State struggled in their first round matchup with Dunk City AKA the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, eventually winning 86-80. FSU held off a late fun by FGCU to secure the W. Florida State looked like the real Dunk City last night. They were throwing them down all over the place. The Musketeers have to keep that in check come Saturday night to keep Seminole fans out of it, as this is pretty much a home game for them playing in Orlando.
The key for Xavier in this matchup is the zone. Florida State loves getting to the rim and throwing it down. They can’t shoot threes all that well, so if Xavier sits in that zone and the Seminoles are throwing up bricks the Musketeers just might be on their way to the Sweet 16.
The Musketeers also have some celebrities on the bandwagon this March. Bill Murray (father of 2nd year assistant coach Luke Murray, and also an award winning actor), PFT Commenter (from Barstool Sports), PFT said his favorite player this March is J.P. Macura, so welcome aboard PFT glad to have you!
Last, but not least, is Pat McAfee (formerly Indianapolis Colts punter, now Barstool Sports employee). If Xavier makes the Sweet 16, Pat wins a trip to Vegas and is also taking me with him so that’s pretty neat. Xavier has now won seven straight games in Orlando and will look to make it eight Saturday night.
All that being said… in the words of DMX “X gon give it to ya”.
Prediction: Musketeers 68 Seminoles 63.