2010 NCAA Tournament Recap
NCAA Tournament First Round Recap - Minnesota vs Xavier
(6) Xavier 65, (11) Minnesota 54
Xavier sophomore forward Jordan Crawford is the truth. In a barroom brawl of a game, Crawford was seemingly the only player that could locate the bucket without the aid of a GPS. Crawford scored 17 points in the decisive second half, as Xavier outscored Minnesota 39-28 en route to a convincing 65-54 win.
The Big Picture: Survive and advance may be the March theme, but in Xavier's case it’s more like thrive and advance. The Musketeers could be the most versatile team in the field of 65. Rumble with them like the Golden Gophers did today, and the Musketeers will pummel you on the boards, and outscore you on second-chance points. Chris Mack's squad outscored the Golden Gophers in the paint, 20-8, and outrebounded Minnesota, 50-41.
The Good: We can't say much more about Jordan Crawford without being accused of idolatry, but the sophomore wing seems to have decided that the 2010 Big Dance is his official coming out party. Whenever Minnesota made a second half run, Crawford came flying down the wing to make a jumper, or take the rock off the bounce to the goal for a lay-up. Fact is that Crawford is one of the transcendent players in this tournament. Xavier is a deep and balanced team, so the weight of advancing is not squarely on his shoulders; yet, being able to go to Crawford when things get tough is a nice luxury.
The Bad: It’s hard to understand what exactly what the Golden Gophers’ strategy was on offense in the second half. With Crawford virtually scoring at will in the second half, Minnesota's response was to indiscriminately jack up triples. To the shock of absolutely no one, that didn't quite work out. Tubby Smith's squad made only 2-of-15 threes, as Xavier pulled away in the second half.
The Ugly: This was not a game for the faint of heart. Neither team shot better than 35 % from the field, and the two teams combined for 14-of-46 shooting beyond the arc. In other words, if it was Michelanagelo that painted all the pretty pictures, and Caravaggio that illustrated the darker side of life in Italy during the 16th century, then this was a game that Caravaggio would've loved.
Chris Mack's Musketeers move on to a second-round scrap with a physical Pittsburgh side. If today's game was a barroom fight, then Xavier versus Pittsburgh figures to look like a prison riot. What will carry over to Sunday is Jordan Crawford being the best player on the floor. In a game that will go down to the final seconds, having Crawford on board just might be the difference between a trip to the Sweet 16 and a long trip back to Cincinnati.
> Find more Big Ten football news online at Big Ten Fans!