Xavier’s hitting its stride as March nears — what else is new?

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Remember Xavier’s issues to start the season? Brad Redford tore his ACL. Top recruit Justin Martin was ruled an NCAA partial qualifier and unable to play. Combine those with Jordan Crawford heading to the NBA and things looked rough for the Musketeers.

Or not.

A 71-63 win over Duquesne on Sunday left Xavier all alone atop the Atlantic 10 and primed for their fifth straight league crown. The Musketeers (18-6 overall, 9-1) have navigated the roughest part of their league schedule. Their remaining six games – St. Joe’s, Fordham, La Salle, Dayton, Charlotte and St. Louis – should be six wins, five at a minimum.

In fact, check out their scoring efficiency since losing to Cincy on Jan. 6 (per kenpom.com, 100.0 is average):

Not too shabby for a team with 10 scholarship players and was just 8-5 a month ago. Perhaps that’s why coach Chris Mack is A-10 coach of the year material.

Not that it’s been easy. Tu Holloway’s playing like an All-American – and has all season – but he needed some support. He finally got it the last few weeks as guard Mark Lyons has become more consistent and center Kenny Frease has been more assertive.

The Dukes wanted to limit Holloway and Frease, so senior Dante Jackson dumped a season-high 19 points on ‘em. If Holloway gets that kind of scoring support in the future, Xavier will not only win another A-10 title, but it’ll be a good bet to reach its fourth straight Sweet 16.

Surprise isn’t the word for that when it comes to Xavier. Typical is more like it.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.