Hot takes were abound, to start this college basketball season. Villanova should leave the Big East for a more competitive league for them.
They would point to the Wildcats winning the regular season crown every year since the Big East reformation. However, a school in Cincinnati was brewing a season to end that streak, as well as, make this league more “competitive.”
The Xavier Musketeers are on the verge of winning the Big East Regular Season for the first time ever. With two games remaining they hold a one game lead over Villanova and only need to win out, or Villanova loses one of their final two games (@ Seton Hall, vs Georgetown), to capture the crown.
Xavier as a Conference Flag Bearer
Being this close to a regular season crown, is not new for this program who dominated the Atlantic-10 Conference from 1995-2013, winning the regular season eight times. They were the premiere program of the A-10 for many years and they were viewed as a team that was ready to leave for bigger pastures.
Enter NCAA realignment in the early 2010s.
Xavier joined the Catholic-7 schools, along with fellow A-10 program Butler and Missouri Valley power Creighton, from the scavenged Big East Conference, to create a basketball first league. Many saw these team’s additions as teams that would need time to acclimate to high-major basketball.
The Musketeers had a different plan, since they have joined the conference, they have made the NCAA tournament every year, including being a two-seed and making the Elite Eight, last season.
But there was always one critique of the new Big East. Villanova holds up the entire league nationally. No team in the conference would come close to Villanova and they are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams.
Chris Mack’s Genius
Xavier’s head coach gives his program an identity.
They will be the anti-Villanova. Chris Mack runs his team to be antagonizing to that of his opponents, and they cherish being the “villains.” Jay Wright runs a tight ship in Philadelphia, and he preaches the “Villanova way.” A way where his players act and play with high-character and perform at the highest level.
Mack’s mentality for Xavier, is to be in their opponent’s face, and antagonize the opponent’s fans or in some cases opposing coaches.
This mentality gets the Musketeers under everyone else’s skin before the game even begins. This makes teams uneasy playing against them from the opening tip. The style makes them a force to be reckoned with in the conference.
Xavier as a program is not the typical flag bearer for the modern Big East Conference. They see themselves as the antithesis of the style of play that is in the league. They are setting themselves up as the bad guys, similar to a team that used that brand to dominate the Big East during the 1980s, the Georgetown Hoyas.
Xavier will more than likely win the Big East, as early as tonight. They will be the number one seed going into the Big East Tournament for the first time. Which means one thing, to take down the top cat you have to become their villain.