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Initial Reactions to the NCAA Tournament

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West Region
Milwaukee pod - Bradley Center
Friday game
11:35 AM tipoff
Limited ticket information HERE (only season tickets holders need apply)

The Golden Gophers were awarded one of the last remaining at-large bids into the 2010 NCAA Tournament. This roller-coaster season saw us ranked, then unranked, in the tournament, then out, then on the bubble, then out of the picture, then back on the bubble and finally back in. When all was said and done the Gophers played their way into the tournament by finishing 7-3 in their last 10 games beating Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State along the way. So what is our NCAA Tournament destination? An 11 seed, a trip to beautiful Milwaukee and a first round game and a matchup with the Muskateers of Xavier. Here are my initial impressions...

  • Xavier - pronounced (zay-vee-ur ), do not try to put an X sound in there.
  • The first name to remember - Jordan Crawford. Former Indiana guard who transferred after the Sampson debacle. Crawford averages just under 20 ppg! As a freshman at IU he averaged 9.7 ppg and averaged 11.5 ppg against Minnesota that year. He is 6-4 and shoots 39% from the three-point line. Crawford led the A10 in scoring and was named to the league's 1st team All-Conference.
  • The next name to remember - Jason Love. Love is the man in the middle for Xavier and expect this wide-body to be a very physical presence. He averages 11.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, but what concerns me most is the fact that Love is 6-9 and 265 pounds! Our big men do not typically play great against big, physical centers. Earned third team All-Conference.
  • Xavier is very balanced. According to KenPom stats this team ranks in the top 50 in Off points per possession, Def points per possession, effective FG%, defensive effective FG% and defensive rebounding. So they play good defense, execute efficiently on offense and they rebound well. Sounds like a very good tournament team.
  • Xavier is experienced. Actually they have only one senior on the team but this is their fifth straight NCAA Tournament so do not expect the Atlantic 10 member to be in awe of the NCAA Tournament.
  • Xavier is also close to Milwaukee. The Muskateers are located in Cincinnati which is about a 6 hour driver. Their alumni base is not as large as Minnesota's but they should travel well and be well represented.
  • Common Opponents this year? Butler is the only common opponent. Xavier lost on the road by a point, we won on a neutral court by 9.
  • I love that we are playing in Milwaukee. Gopher fans should turn out in full force to support this gutsy team.
Worthy links to get started with your Xavier prep.

DON'T FORGET - Beginning Thursday you can come to TDG and watch live games with NCAA® March Madness on Demand®">CBS's MMOD widget, which will be embedded here. For those of you stuck at work Friday afternoon, come here to watch the game and comment all at the same time.