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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stealing Cinderellas

Once a week, we look at a mid-major team that could be crushing your bracket in March if you don't realize it now.

The first team in this series is Xavier. The Musketeers have already pulled one big shocker this season and will have the opportunity to move deep into the tournament come March.

Thus far on the season, Xavier is 5-1 with the lone loss at Miami (Oh), but as we mentioned they shocked the Indiana Hoosiers in the Chicago Invitational over the weekend. In addtion, the team has wins over SE Missouri, Coppin State, Kent State and Oakland.

Amazingly, Sean Miller's team has six players averaging in double figures and is one of the most selfish crews you'll find. The national average for assists per game is 13.9, but Xavier averages 18 per contest. That type of offensive efficiency helps Xavier get 1.19 points per possession which is tied for sixth in the nation with Oregon. Not surprisingly, the five teams ranked ahead of them are a combined 29-0.

Drew Lavender, who spent his freshman year at Oklahoma, averages 4.7 assists a night, while Stanley Burrell chips in 3.2.

In addition, the Musketeers allow only .9 points per possession which is below the national average and helps to make sense of their success.

Xavier is the type of team that could easily perform very well in the Atlantic 10 this year and could leave a top seed disappointed in the NCAA tournament. Winning one game wouldn't make Xavier Cinderella, but making it through the first weekend just might.

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