This Day in March Madness History
March 25, 2010
Xavier vs. Kansas State
- The Setup
Kansas State and Xavier met in West Regional Sweet 16, and the winner would be in the driver’s seat to get to the Final Four with top-seeded Syracuse having been eliminated by #5 Butler. Xavier was in their first season under head coach Chris Mack, but they were making their ninth straight tournament appearance and third straight appearance in the Sweet 16. They weren’t a favorite to get there in 2010, but the Musketeers pulled an upset in the Round of 32 over #3 Pittsburgh to reach this game.
Meanwhile, Kansas State could hardly match Xavier’s tournament experience, but the Wildcats had been the better team in 2010. They had only one tournament win since 1988, which was also the last time they had been in the Sweet 16. They had had no issues in getting there this time around, having beaten North Texas by 20 and BYU by 12.
- How it went down
For a while, it looked like the higher-ranked Wildcats may absolutely bury Xavier in the first half. Just over eight minutes into the game, Wally Judge tipped in a rebound, and Kansas State went up 19-4. However, Xavier ripped off an 8-0 run to make it a competitive game. Later in the half, the Musketeers repeated the feet to close within a point, and then they grabbed their first lead in the final minute on a free throw. Xavier led 32-31 at the half.
Kansas State jumped back in the lead right at the start of the half, and they kept Xavier at bay for a long time, but the Musketeers never went away. Xavier crawled back into the lead at 59-58 with 5:31 to play, but they never extended their lead beyond the one-point advantage, and the Wildcats pushed back in front, 72-69 with 10 seconds left. Terrell Holloway of Xavier was fouled on a three-point attempt, and he calmly drained all three free throws to tie the game and send it to overtime.
In a very competitive overtime, Xavier needed another late comeback to survive. After getting an initial layup to take their biggest lead of the game at two points, the Musketeers surrendered their advantage once more. With under ten seconds to go, Xavier found themselves down three again, but this time it was Jordan Crawford draining a game-tying triple with seven seconds left. For the second time, Kansas State saw a game-tying effort go off target.
However, Xavier’s tightrope act could not continue for another overtime. They took a two-point lead twice, but they couldn’t sustain their desperate comeback efforts. Down 99-96, Xavier’s game-tying three was off the mark this time, and Kansas State drilled a pair of shots from the charity stripe to ice the result. It was Jacob Pullen who knocked down the game-winning three for the Wildcats with 35 seconds left.
- The Aftermath
Kansas State’s win made them the favorite in their Elite Eight matchup, but they were just another domino to fall in Butler’s Cinderella run to the national championship. Kansas State lost in five straight opening weekends after that, but in 2018, the Wildcats made a re-appearance in the Elite Eight, losing to another Cinderella story in Loyola-Chicago.
Xavier continued to struggle to get past the Sweet 16, not doing so until 2017 as an 11-seed. The Musketeers welcomed in a new era with Travis Steele taking over as head coach upon the departure of Mack, and they were firmly on the bubble prior to the cancellation of March Madness.
- NBA Notables (Teams they played 100+ games for)
Xavier – Jordan Crawford (Wizards)
Kansas State – None