SDSU to face Xavier in NCAA Tournament


Marcus Traxler

SDSU knows where they are going in the NCAA Tournament and won’t have an easy start.

The Jackrabbits drew a 15 seed and will head east to face the second-seeded Xavier Musketeers on their home court in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the lowest the Jackrabbits have been seeded in their three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Winners of the Atlantic-10 conference, the Musketeers will enter the game at 27-2 with a 17-game winning streak. Those two losses came to third-ranked Duke by a point and eighth-ranked Stanford, both on the road.

“I figured it would be somewhere in that 14 or 15 range and really, the difference between the two is very small. It’s really just a number,” said Jackrabbit head coach Aaron Johnston.

As the hour-long ESPN telecast wore on, the players for the Jacks continued to get nervous of where they would fall in the field of 64, even though they knew their placement was a guarantee.

“Just the anticipation. Sitting there, expecting to see your name and then when you least expect it, there it comes, so it was fun,” Tara Heiser said.

“I guess there were a couple of sites that came up that we thought we maybe would be at and you kind of get excited and then you don’t see yourself. The wait was a little long and I would have rather found out right away,” said Jill Young.

Xavier is led by the venerable low post duo of Ta’Shia Phillips and Amber Harris, both of whom average double-doubles per game on the season.

“Xavier is really good. We’re going to see a team that is a lot more bigger and athletic than what we see in the Summit League and what we are. They have a great group back, they know what it takes to win and we’ll be playing on their home court, so we’ve got an uphill battle,” Johnston said.

“It’s hard to predict where you’re going to go or who you’re going to be playing and when you get your draw, you just have to embrace that challenge. They’re a two seed and we’re a 15 and in everyone else’s opinion, they are the favorite and we’re expecting to go in there and compete and it’s anyone’s game,” said Kristin Rotert.

Trying to find out where the Jacks would end up is a guessing game and that doesn’t exclude the players involved.

“Everyone looks online and tries to figure out for themselves but I’ve learned over the last few years that you just can’t predict it and no matter where you think you’re going to be, you’re probably going to be somewhere different. I don’t think any of us thought we would be in Cincinatti playing Xavier,” Rotert said.

“We’re going to go to win, that’s the bottom line. We have to figure out how to beat Xavier on that particular day in there particular gym. We’ll be focused and we’ll do what it takes to get that done,” Johnston said.

#1.2109722:4018265959.jpg:Macie Michelson:Macie Michelson and SDSU drew Xavier for the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Jacks drew a 15 seed, their lowest in three seasons making the tournament, and will play on Xavier’s home floor in Cincinnati, Ohio.:Photo by Stephen Brua