Xavier needed a good week.
Coming off of a loss to Arizona State where the Musketeers were flat out run out of Las Vegas, Chris Mack’s club turned around and beat a pair of top 25 teams at home, both of which came by double-figures.
It started on Tuesday night, when the Musketeers took out No. 16 Baylor, 76-63, and continued over the weekend as they thoroughly dominated their Crosstown Shootout rival, No. 11 Cincinnati. The final score was 89-76, but the game wasn’t really that close for much of the second half.
Perhaps more importantly, Xavier was able to bust all-american forward Trevon Bluiett out of the slump that he had been mired in for a couple of games. He struggled against Arizona State. He also struggled against Baylor. But on Saturday, against a Bearcat team that had embarrassed Xavier last season at Fifth-Third Arena, Bluiett was the best player on the floor. He finished with 28 points, the majority of which came as the Musketeers were building their lead.
Put it all together, and Xavier landed two top 25 wins, they earned bragging rights in their city for the next year and they got their all-american back to playing like an all-american again.
All in all, that’s a pretty damn good week.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- WICHITA STATE: The Shockers landed their first top 25 win in nearly two years on Saturday afternoon, and they did it by going to Waco and picking off No. 16 Baylor, 69-62. I wrote a column on this here, but in summation: We’ve known for years that the computers think Wichita State is one of the best teams in the country. Our eyes tell us similar things. What they need are the wins to back that up, and they got one on Saturday.
- BOISE STATE: The Broncos not only helped out their non-conference résumé by winning at Oregon – assuming Oregon finds a way to actually be good this season – but they got Chandler Hutchison back from a concussion. He rewarded them with 20 and 10 at Oregon and a triple-double on Sunday.
- SMU: The Mustangs landed another potentially elite win over a struggling opponent on Saturday, as they picked off No. 14 USC by 16 points. SMU also owns a win over then-No. 2 and now-unranked Arizona. As good as those wins looked at the time, SMU is going to be rooting for both of those teams to avoid a collapse this season. If they stink, SMU’s non-conference résumé goes down the toilet.
- SETON HALL: The Pirates picked up two key wins this week, knocking off No. 22 Texas Tech on a neutral court before going into the Yum! Center and beating No. 17 Louisville on a last-second shot from Desi Rodriguez. Villanova is still the best team in the Big East, but Seton Hall is proving that they are right there with Xavier as the second-best team in the league. The Big East is going to have some absolute wars in conference play.
- MIAMI: The Hurricanes staked their claim as the second-best team in the ACC with an emphatic win at No. 10 Minnesota on Wednesday night. Jim Larrañaga’s club jumped out to a lead that was double-figures for long stretches of the second half. Bruce Brown has finally found his shooting stroke and Dewan Huell looks like the McDonald’s All-American he was in high school.