Success in both the regular and postseason has become an expected part of life at Xavier and 2011 has been no exception. The Musketeers finished as regular season champions in the Atlantic-10 for the fifth consecutive season and won it outright for the third time in that stretch. Furthermore, the program finished with at least 24 wins in the regular season for the fifth straight year as well. As if all of that wasn't enough, a win in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament would mark the fifth straight season that the Xavier has won a March Madness game, having reached the Elite Eight and the Sweet 16 twice during this recent run of dominance. For his latest efforts, second-year head coach Chris Mack was named A-10 Coach of the Year.
Record: 24-7 (15-1) *as of Thursday
Key Wins: 51-49 vs Butler, Dec. 9. Xavier has several wins over Big Six basement dwellers on their resume this season, but a non-conference win over the Horizon League champion Bulldogs certainly looks good - even if Butler wasn't playing its best basketball of the season at the time.
Key Losses: 66-62 at Charlotte, Feb. 2. It's rare to see a team accumulate so many "good" losses, but the tallies in the Musketeers L column have consisted of names like Florida, Old Dominion and Gonzaga. So needless to say it was mildly shocking when the A-10 champs fell on the road at Charlotte, one of just two wins the 49ers would finish with in conference this season. At the end of the day the game stands as nothing more than an aberration, but it did prevent Xavier from finishing with a perfect 16-0 record.
Key Player: Tu Holloway, Junior, Guard: An All-American candidate and the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year, Holloway has been a revelation in his third season with the Musketeers, averaging a conference-best 20.1 points per game while also averaging better than five rebounds and five assist. The dynamic guard is among the best pick and roll players in the country and ranks in the top 10 percent for points per possession generated from spot-up possessions. Holloway has had 10 games of at least 25 points and at least one in each month of the season.
-- Joey Whelan of Mid-Major Madness
See our printable 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket.
For more NCAA Tournament coverage of the Xavier Musketeers, please visit SB Nation Mid-Major Madness.