By: Craig James
Xavier has opened the season on FIRE, scoring 100+ points in each of their first two games, thanks in large part to Pre-Season All American Trevon Bluiett scoring 25 and 26. Trevon has 51 points in 50 minutes of play this year. He’s off to just a ridiculous start. Yes, it was against competition that Xavier should handle, and they did. In both games this year five players have scored in double figures, Mack’s deepest team yet.
Through two games this team looks legit. Quentin Goodin, starting point guard, is not even one of the five guys that have scored in double figures yet. Their first real test comes Thursday night when the Musketeers travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. Hearing the name Wisconsin brings back nightmares for Xavier fans. After earning a 2 seed in the 2016 NCAA tournament, the Musketeers looked poised to make a run in March, as they often do. That dream season was cut short by Bronson Koenig draining a corner three at the buzzer.
How on God’s green earth did that fade away corner three go in…something I’ll never understand.
Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and Sean O’Mara were sophomores in that game. I’m sure those guys haven’t forgotten about that heartbreaking loss. Wisconsin has four current players who were a part of that March Madness thriller in 2016. Ethan Happ was a star in that game. In the 2016 game he scored 18 points and had 7 rebounds. He was an All American last season. Happ stands 6’10” and is a matchup nightmare for any team in college basketball. Last season Happ was the only player in the country to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals during conference play. He has started every game since he arrived on campus. Long story short, Happ is a stud and an NBA lottery pick one day. Xavier will have their hands full with him Thursday night.
Three things to watch for in this game…
1) How will the three freshman play for X? Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall and Elias Harden will face their first big time opponent. Should be a great litmus test for the young guys.
2) Will Tyrique Jones and his new game be able to dominate down low against a team like Wisconsin? Jones didn’t leave the weight room all summer. I mean literally I think he slept under a squat rack and his pillow was two forty-five pound plates. His hard work in the off-season has shown through the first two games.
3) We have two potential candidates for National Player of the Year on the court in this game: Trevon Bluiett and Ethan Happ. Awesome to see such a great matchup this early in the season.
The Badgers play in the Kohl Center, one the hardest places to play in college basketball. They are 276-41 at home, which ranks them 6th in terms of home court winning percentage. In case you were wondering Xavier ranks 8th. Hopefully Badger fans stay at home Thursday night trying to figure out how their football team is going to make the College Football Playoff. The Badger faithful will be out in full force most likely though, as the first ranked team of the year comes to visit.
Excited to watch the Musketeers in their first big game of the season. 8:30 on FS1. Be there.