Xavier Musketeers

NCAA Division: Division I

Conference: Big East

Past Conferences: Atlantic-10, Midwestern Collegiate, Midwestern City, Independent

City: Cincinnati, OH

Stadium: Cintas Center

NCAA Tournaments: 1961, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Championships: 

National Championships: None

Conference Titles: 9

Team History

The Xavier Musketeers operated as an independent team for most of its history before joining the Midwestern City Conference prior to the 1979-80 season. They had just one NCAA Tournament appearance during their independent years, coming in 1961 and resulting in a first-round exit. There was an NIT title in 1958, when “Mr. Dependable” Joe Viviano Jr. led the way, but the program didn’t become a regular on the national stage until Pete Gillen took over, prior to the 1985-86 season.

That became a watershed season for Xavier, as Gillen took the team to its third ever NCAA Tournament, but the first of six straight. Led by the program’s all-time leading scorer in Byron Larkin, that 1985-86 team won the Midwestern Collegiate regular-season and conference tournament titles before falling to Alabama in the NCAA Tournament.

Larkin averaged 24.8 points the following season and was joined by future NBA players Tyrone Hill and Stan Kimbrough on a squad that pulled off a huge upset in the NCAA Tournament. The 14th-seeded Musketeers stunned Missouri, the Big Eight champs and the No. 3 seed, with a 70-69 triumph, the school’s first in the Big Dance.

First Sweet 16 Berth

Hill was a senior on the 1990 squad that defeated Kansas State and then upset Georgetown en route to the program’s first Sweet 16 berth. The following season saw the team score another first-round upset as a No. 14 seed, this time knocking off Nebraska.

Gillen turned his program-building success into jobs at Providence and then Virginia, with Skip Prosser taking over in 1994 and leading the Musketeers to NCAA Tournaments four times in his seven seasons with the school. The program entered the Atlantic-10 in 1995-96, Prosser’s second season, and were co-regular season champs in 1996-97 before getting to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Prosser had a freshman in 1999-2000 by the name of David West, who would help elevate the program even higher with four outstanding seasons as a Musketeer. West led the A-10 in rebounding in all four campaigns, winning conference player of the year honors three times.

His last two seasons, which were the first two for new head coach Thad Matta, saw Xavier go 52-12 overall and 27-3 in conference play. Both teams reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The year after West left for a standout career in the NBA, Matta turned around a struggling team and guided it to nine wins in its last 10 games of the regular season, then four more in four days to steal the A-10 tourney title. What became known on campus as “The Run” continued into the NCAA Tournament, as Xavier -a 7-seed- knocked off Louisville, Mississippi State and Texas before falling by three points in the Elite Eight to top-seeded Duke.

Winning a Program-Record 30 Games

The 2007-08 team, with an incredibly balanced attack, won a program-record 30 games and again reached the Elite Eight under head coach Sean Miller. Xavier Musketeers team stats that season showed six players averaging between 9.7 and 12.4 points, and the method worked all the way until a defeat at the hands of a UCLA team featuring Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Darren Collison, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Chris Mack took over for Miller prior to the 2009-10 season and took the Musketeers to an NCAA Tournament appearance in eight of his first nine seasons, including five in a row after the program joined the Big East in 2013.

After Mack went to Louisville, Travis Steele took over in 2018. However, he was fired after failing to get the team to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first four seasons. The 2021-22 team, working with interim replacement Jonas Hayes, won the NIT with a thrilling one-point victory over Texas A&M in the finals.

Days after Steele was let go, the school hired Miller again to man the post he held from 2004 through 2009. Based on his prior success with the program, NCAAB odds will be in the favor of a return trip to the Big Dance. 

Those seeking betting tips for the Musketeers in 2022-23 should note that early sheets have them in the middle of the pack in the Big East.


All-Time Records

Points Scored

Byron Larkin: 2,696

Trevon Bluiett: 2,261

David West: 2,132

Rebounds

Tyrone Hill: 1,370

Bob Pelkington: 1,330

David West: 1,308

Assists

Ralph Lee: 699

Jamal Walker: 639

Tu Holloway: 550

Wins

Chris Mack: 215

Pete Gillen: 202

Skip Prosser: 148

FAQs

What Is the Highest Win Total in Program History?

The only 30-win season in Xavier history came in 2007-08, when the team went 30-7, including 14-2 in a first-place finish in the Atlantic-10.

What Was the Worst Season in Program History?

In 1972-73, Xavier had just two wins against Division I opponents and three overall, while losing 23 times. An independent team, the Musketeers played a challenging schedule that featured Kansas, Villanova, Notre Dame, Houston, Marquette (twice), DePaul, and Cincinnati.

Who Is the Greatest Player in Program History?

The only three-time Conference Player of the Year in Xavier history is David West, who is also the only Musketeer in the top three all-time at the school in points and rebounds. He also has more blocks than anyone in program history. 

West’s last two teams went 26-6, both had the best record in the Atlantic-10 and both won one game in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out. He was a two-time All-Star in a 15-year NBA career.

 
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