Xavier’s status as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament may be in trouble.
The Musketeers failed to make the Big East tournament final as they were ousted in the semis Friday by Providence, 75-72 in overtime, at Madison Square Garden.
Xavier led by as many as 17 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as the Friars roared back to force the extra frame. The Musketeers shot just 29.6 percent overall and 22.2 percent from 3 after halftime.
Chris Mack’s team still had chances to win or force an additional overtime late. First, J.P. Macura got loos for a fastbreak with Xavier down one, but was whistled for a (questionable) charging call as he went to the basket with just 7 seconds left. Still, the Musketeers had a chance to tie the game after a pair of Providence free throws, but failed to even get a shot off as the six seconds they had ticked away.
Ed Cooley had to feel strongly about Providence’s chances of inclusion to the NCAA tournament, but there will likely now be little question about their candidacy with such a big win on a neutral floor. They were able to pull off the upset despite going just 3 of 19 from 3-point range thanks to 17 points from both Alpha Diallo and Rodney Bullock plus 15 points from Kyron Cartwright, who also drew the fateful charge against Macura.
Now, instead of a likely title-game rematch with Villanova, Xavier will have to await their fate Sunday.
The Musketeers still have a very strong resume as the Big East’s regular season champion with a 28-5 record that includes non-conference wins over Cincinnati and Baylor, but their loss invites some doubt.
The biggest threat to their top spot would seemingly be Duke or North Carolina, both of whom are projected as two-seeds and who happen to play each other Friday night. Whichever emerges victorious will have another high-quality win on their resume with a chance to snag a whale of a win Saturday in the ACC title game against Virginia.
Xavier still has a shot at No. 1, but the Musketeers may need things to shake out their way to lock it up.