It’s back to the hardwood for Florida State tonight, as the ’Noles will seek a trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Standing in the way is stout competition, in the form of the Xavier Musketeers, who advanced to the second round after upending Maryland. I had a chance to catch up with Caleb Childers, a writer for our Xavier sister site, Banners on the Parkway, who was good enough to provide some insight from the other side. His responses to my questions are included below, and be sure to check out my answers to his queries as well.
1) So what is the general feeling around the Xavier community about this game and the season that the Musketeers have had?
This season has been a total roller coaster ride for us, to be honest. We were the 9/10 team in the country going into the season, and many felt like we simply had to wait for Myles Davis to return for the team to be one of the best in the country. Davis came back, lasted three games, and left the program for good. Then Edmond Sumner went down for the season, and Xavier went into a free fall. By the end of the season, we were just happy to knock off Butler in the Big East Tournament and to be dancing. So that is this season in a nut shell, but for this game, Xavier fans are excited. We had stretches during which we looked great against Maryland, and we all hope to see that again today. Generally, we define success as a Sweet 16 appearance, and FSU is the only thing standing in the way of that right now.
2) On offense, what does Xavier like to do, and where has it struggled?
We love to shoot the three. JP Macura especially loves to do that. Also, Xavier loves to play fast and move the ball when possible. Those two are the ideals for this team, but like all teams we tend to have a knack at going extremely cold and extremely careless at times. The one game that we never like to talk about was an early season tournament game against Mizzou. In that game, we looked miserable and did not hit a single shot from outside of 5 feet of the basket for most of the second half and all of overtime.
3) FSU wants to play at a lightning-fast pace on offense. How do you think the Musketeers will address this, and will the strategy prove successful?
Xavier, when it's hot, prefers up tempo, so that could make this an extremely fun game to watch. Or it could become a total nightmare for Xavier if we go cold and FSU stays hot. Our offense is run by freshman Quentin Goodin, who stepped in when Sumner went down with his injury and has been a fine replacement. Our team showed a lot of depth in the win against Maryland, so I'd expect to see guys like Kaiser Gates and Sean O'Mara play a big role.
4) As a service to the English language, please inform our fanbase and the rest of the college sports universe as to how, exactly, the word "Xavier" is supposed to be pronounced.
Yes! Thank you for asking! The basketball universe has butchered our name for so long and yet never asks us. It's pronounced Zay-V-er. Think xylophone for the beginning. None of this "eggs-xavier" crap. It's one of the first things that they teach you when you tour the school. Our student body and fan base silently weeps every time that the TV crews say it wrong for two straight hours. It's even worse to be corrected by someone who is wrong. I once had this interaction in grad school.
Me: "I went to Xavier for undergrad"
Him: "You said it wrong, it's pronounced Zah-V-Eh."
Me: "What. no."
Him: "Dude seriously. You say it wrong."
And this person is now a math teacher at a public middle school shaping the minds of our youths.
5) How about a score prediction?
Xavier in March is a dangerous thing, and I've definitely drank the Kool-aid, so I'm going to go Xavier 75, Florida State 73.