NCAA Bracket 2012: How Xavier Basketball Got To March Madness

The Musketeers entered the season with sky-high expectations but mostly stumbled after a strong start.

Rarely have expectations been so high for the Xavier Musketeers. Coming off a sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Musketeers earned a Top 15 ranking in the Coaches' Poll in the preseason and were generally considered to have one of the most talented teams in their history.

The season started off well enough, too. Xavier opened with eight straight wins, including an overtime victory over then-No. 19 Vanderbilt. But a Dec. 18 loss to Oral Roberts kicked off a tough stretch in which the Musketeers lost three straight and five of six. That run of games concluded with a loss to La Salle in their Atlantic 10 opener.

Although Xavier regained its footing with four straight wins, the A-10 schedule did not go as planned. The Musketeers won consecutive games only once more all season and finished the regular season with a disappointing 10-6 conference record and finished third, behind Temple and Saint Louis.

Somewhat tellingly, the Musketeers went 0-3 in games against the Owls and Billikens. In their two road games against those teams, they failed to even get within 10 points.

In the Atlantic 10 tournament, Xavier earned the No. 3 seed as well as a first-round bye. They barely beat Dayton, 70-69, in the quarterfinal round before finally getting a win against Saint Louis, 71-64, in the semifinals. Xavier ran out of gas in the final, though, losing 67-56 to St. Bonaventure.

Xavier never really was on the bubble, though, and earned a No. 10 seed in the South Region. The Musketeers will face Notre Dame in the Second Round.

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