The Rebels have dispatched the Cougars from BYU after a second half surge for the ages. Now our boys take on the No. 6 seed, Xavier. The Musketeers from Cincinnati are going to be quite the challenge if Ole Miss is going to want to make it a weekend in Jacksonville.
To get an inside scoop on our opponent, we asked WestCoastd'Artagnan of SB Nation's Xavier blog, Banners On The Parkway, some questions about Thursday afternoon's matchup. Hope you enjoy. If not, that's what the comments are for.
1. Three-part question: Have you personally gotten an Uber ride from Matt Stainbrook? If so, how was it? If not, have you heard any stories about his driving, cabbie banter, music choices, etc.?
WestCoastd'Artagnan: Unfortunately I have never personally received a ride from the Stain Train nor have I met anyone who has. We do not doubt that he does it, we just simply have not seen it.
Overall the story itself is great. Matt gave up his scholarship so they could give it to his younger brother, which is a smart financial move because as a graduate student Matt is paying less. To pay for his tuition and get some extra cash he becomes an uber driver. When they first revealed that we all loved it and it gave him bonus points in everyone's eyes. The story is great and Matt is definitely a class act. Now let's go ahead and guess what the experience would be like. He's big but strong so my hunch is that he's great in an open lane but horrible in traffic. He's always seemed like a friendly guy so I think that he would humor any question about his basketball playing or what it's like to be a driver too, but I think that he'd rather talk about other things such as his beloved Cleveland Indians. He's been known for being a lovable goof, so my hunch is that the music is always classic 90's hip hop.
So the story is great. We all love it and we're glad that he's getting noticed for it. It's been brought up this season so much that we've turned it into a drinking game during broadcasts, so that should explain it. Also his best on film moment has to be this gem.
2. It's not the Big East of old, but do you think the "BigEAST" style of play is still around today?
WCA: Great question, Zach. I absolutely think that the beastly style in the Big East is alive and well in the current conference. When it was founded in the 1970s, it was mostly private schools who focused on basketball and played a very physical style. The schools were close to each other (side note: like conferences should be) and this created fierce rivalries that made every single night fun. Year one was a slight letdown, but this year was spectacular. The games almost always went down to the final few minutes and every game was physical with the players getting pretty emotional. Honestly the first two weeks of conference play may have rivaled most stretches of the old conference because every team was playing pretty solid basketball. And yes, even Seton Hall and DePaul looked good for a little while this season before imploding.
So to answer the question, yes, the BigEAST style is absolutely still around. It may never touch the 11 tournament bids era or the three final four teams, but man this conference is fun right now and we all enjoy it.
3. Follow-up to that, after playing against Missouri, Alabama and Auburn, do you think there is a distinct style in the SEC?
WCA: That is tough. I do have to admit that I did not watch much SEC basketball outside of the games we had and the conference tournament, so my view probably has some bias to it. Also I'm going to exclude the Mizzou game from my memory of this because they only won nine games this season. You must hit double digits for me to remember.
My biggest takeaway is that the SEC seems to be a quick league with good offenses. Arkansas and of course Kentucky stand out to me as well as your second half against BYU. Also, quick side note, when they revealed the bracket I wanted y'all to win because I did not think that we matched up well with the Cougars, but after watching that second half I'm more concerned now. Anyway, it seems to be a quick league that is definitely stronger that has definitely improved over the last few years. Because of Kentucky, the perception always seems to be that the conference is simply Kentucky running over everyone, but there are definitely some other solid teams in there.
4. Unrelated to basketball, for a school that has no football program, what in the hell do you guys do in the fall?
WCA: During my undergrad years I learned that Saturday's in the fall at Xavier are something unique. Xavier brings in people from all over the midwest, and in recent years have brought in more and more kids from around the nation. Because of that, Saturday's are a very passionate time where students go crazy getting ready for their respective favorite team and yelling so loud the hall can hear them. Lots of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Wisconsin fans all around.
Our fall Saturday's definitely cannot touch power five football schools, and especially the ones in Oxford, but they are still fun. Honestly it's a bit fun having an entire day of games to watch because of all the different people.
Also, we did have a team until 1973. We even won a few bowl games! Because of this, we all have shirts that say "Xavier Football, Undefeated Since 1973". They're pretty awesome. If your school has an equally awesome yet bizarre shirt then I will gladly send you one of ours.
5. Finally, how do you see Thursday's matchup unfolding?
WCA: First off, I think that this is going to be a good game. Xavier loves to shoot the ball and we shoot it well. I think that this is going to give your team some problems. But on the flip side, Moody and White seem to be strong 3-point shooters, and we struggle at defending the three. Our defense has been non-existent at times but strong at others, so it really all depends on which comes out tomorrow.
Two big factors for Xavier in this game will be Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds. Both are physical forwards and when they are hot they seem to be almost unbeatable. They are a huge part of why we beat Georgetown three times this year and hung on to Villanova a few weeks ago. Look for them to be big.
Both teams have a tendency (or so it seems) to come out slow. Also I am curious as to which Ole Miss is going to show up? The team who took UK to overtime and beat Arkansas, or the team who dropped four of their last five heading into the BYU game?
I'm always (or almost always) an optimist for my team so I see Xavier winning this game 69-61 with a few different Musketeers scoring in the double digits.
We here at the Cup want to thank WCA over at BOTP. Check out their page and their questions/my answers here. One of theirs is actually going to be in Oxford next month for an evening. So if you see a guy that looks lost on the Square and he's rocking the X, help him out and buy him a beer.
Also, if anyone has any ideas for a unique Ole Miss shirt that we can send him, let us know in the comments below.