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Xavier Men’s NCAA Basketball – A Year of Firsts

Xavier University I’m an old fashioned guy in a lot of respects. I was raised to love, respect, and give what I expect to receive. My dad worked hard to give me what I needed or wanted to succeed in life. Hard-headed as I was, I did learn from him and am still learning today. I tried to raise my daughter the same way. Some years ago when she chose a college she selected Xavier University in Cincinnati over my Alma Mater Central Michigan University. She got an exceptional education and experience from caring people who acted as if they had as much to lose if she failed as if she did.  She didn’t fail and in fact, she thrived as a human being then and now as a valuable member of her workplace. Since then, my wife and I adopted Xavier and have supported them to give a little back for what they gave my daughter but, especially the men’s basketball team. Xavier has earned our respect in many ways and is earning the respect of the country as a quality basketball program founded on the Jesuit principles. I am proud of Xavier for graduating 100% of the intercollegiate team seniors who make it to their fourth year. How many schools can make that boast among the basketball elite?

Anyway, I keep my crowing about Xavier to myself mostly, and now to you. Xavier University Men’s basketball is one of the elite basketball programs in the country on a number of different measurements.

  1. They are ranked #17 financially against all the power conference schools on a national basis. (USA Today and ESPN)
  2. They’ve been to the Sweet 16 five of the last eight years. That puts them in the top nine schools in the country including teams like UK, Duke, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona. Only Louisville and MSU have more appearances since 2008.
  3. Only 11 Division 1 men’s college basketball programs have made the NCAA tournament nine times in eleven years. Xavier is one of them.
  4. Xavier has been close. They’ve been in the Elite 8 twice in the last 11 years.
  5. Xavier has the 12th highest winning percentage during the past 25 years in NCAA men’s basketball.
  6. In the past 25 years Xavier has appeared in the post season NCAA tournament 14 times which places it in the top 25 teams at 14.
  7. They have graduated 100% of the seniors playing in their fourth year.

Today, however, may make a new high for Xavier. This weekend, four of top-10 basketball squads — No. 4 Kentucky, No. 5 Iowa State, No. 7 Duke and No. 8 Purdue – fell to lesser ranked and lesser RPI (rating percentage index) teams. No. 10 Xavier won convincingly against Auburn University of the Southeastern Conference on Saturday.  Xavier remains unbeaten so far with wins over Big10, Pac10, and SEC teams so far. Xavier also has the nation’s highest RPI (rating percentage index) among 350 schools. RPI is used to help sort the field when tournament selection comes around in March. Does Xavier move up and push Duke, KY, Iowa State and Purdue down a few notches? It is a good bet. Xavier is enjoying their best start in history at 11-0. Once they get ranked #6 today it will eclipse the previous highest ranking at #7 in both 1997 and 2008.

This weekend Duke lost to unranked Utah. KY lost to unranked Ohio State. Iowa State lost to North Iowa, also unranked. Purdue lost to Butler and is the only loss by a top ten team to a ranked opponent.

I predict Xavier moves up to #6 ahead of Duke, KY, Iowa State and Purdue, maybe even #5. Now, they won’t pass No. 1 Michigan State, or No. 2 Kansas, or No. 3 Oklahoma, or Maryland, or Virginia, in my opinion, who currently rank ahead of them in the top ten.  That parks them in at #6 if Kentucky drops more than three spots.

Since Xavier is still winning convincingly, no one should pass Xavier either on the way up but if they do, I wouldn’t put any stock in the poll at all as a tool to rank the best college basketball teams in the nation. Moreover, there are only 5 unbeaten teams left in the top 25 so Xavier should earn something for their excellent play and be ranked No. 6 later today.  This will be one to watch and Xavier may well have accomplished its highest major poll ranking ever when they come out today.

This has been a year of firsts for Xavier. In the way early department, several commentators including Jay Bilas (ESPN), and Dick Vitale (ESPN) have indicated they consider Xavier a final four team. Wouldn’t that be fun?

By the way, my daughter, wife and myself are considered Xavier boosters under NCAA rules so none of the latter is considered a recruiting effort if you pass this along to your up-and-coming basketball friends or family. I am simply proud of an exceptional institution, an institution that took good care of my daughter and educated a fine young lady. And they men’s basketball team hasn’t done all that bad either!

Please excuse me for going on about anything other than insurance. We should all be proud of Xavier University and the mission they carry out every day.

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