If you haven't already, make with the clicky and go read our answers to questions about Marquette from our friends at Banners on the Parkway. (Aside: Pre-Duel Pleasantries is an AMAZING name for these Q&A posts for a blog covering a team nicknamed Musketeers.) Then bookmark their site and visit it on a regular basis, too.
Then, once you've done that, wander on back here, and we'll let West Coast d'Artagnan explain the ins and outs of Xavier basketball to you. Our questions in bold, his answers in... not bold.
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1) After 1+ seasons in the new conference, do you guys find any new rivalries developing? Any team that has managed to particularly rile up your team or your fans? I'd like to think it's not Marquette, because we've been cheering for your team against Cincinnati since the 1990s, because, y'know, screw the Bearcats.
Great question. I like to think that we're developing emotions and feelings towards/against every team in the Big East thanks to the double round robin format. Personally I really do not like playing Seton Hall, but that really comes down to the fact that they beat us twice last year. I was at last year's Xavier-Marquette match-up in Milwaukee and had a blast (despite the scoreline) so I must say that Marquette is lower on my list of dislike, but that can always change. And I am glad to see that y'all have the good sense to enjoy hating on the bearkittens.
I would like to throw in that I would like to see one conference rivalry appear soon. It was fun playing (and beating) Dayton every year in conference play. While every Big East match-up is better then the A-10 match-ups were, it's still fun having rivals every year.
2) Clearly Villanova is the class of the Big East this year. But after that, it's anyone's guess who is the next best team. From what you've seen, who would you say the 2nd best team in the league thus far? I will accept arguments for the Musketeers.
Here's the thing. The Big East is doing an amazing job at beating itself up this year. Villanova is absolutely the best team. Losing is never fun, but Coach Mack said it best after Wednesday's game when he said that Villanova was simply better. As far as second goes, it is really hard to choose. My gut reaction is to say Seton Hall based on their game against Villanova, but we beat them and I honestly do not think that Xavier is the #2 team in the conference. Seton Hall also lost to Butler, but they lost to Providence and I do not think that Providence is #2. Gahhhh, why is this conference so deep and good? It honestly may just be a 7 bid league.
So I'm going to have to go with Seton Hall. They have a lot of talented freshmen, and I have a hunch that they're going to get better as the season goes on. Which also means that Xavier's win over them will look even better.
3) Let's cut to the chase: If Matt Stainbrook was on any other team besides your own, you'd hate him, right? And, as a follow up, do you have any explanation as to where "The Stain Train" started exactly, or even better, why it continues?
I have to be honest, I am a sucker for big men who are really big and really goofy. The bowties, the hair, the way he runs, and the fact that he drives an Uber car, I love it all. But would I love Stainbrook as much if he played for say, St. John's? No, absolutely not. He's a Musketeer and that makes me irrationally love him more.
Now for the "Stain Train." I actually do not know how it started. He was a transfer from Western Michigan and sat out the 2012-2013 season but was on campus. I remember people referring to him by that during this time. I want to say that the nick name preceded his time at Xavier? Either that or he got it as soon as it got here. Xavier fans love nick names (but honestly, who doesn't?). From J-Craw to Cheeks, we love them all, and that is exactly why Stain Train has stuck and grown.
4) I feel compelled to ask a Skyline Chili question - because in my brain Cincinnati = Skyline - but, I suspect everyone does that. So tell us about a different local delicacy that we should try next time we're in Cincy that doesn't get the hype of Skyline or Cincinnati chili in general. Bonus points if it's craft beer related.
No "local food" get's as much hype as the chili does, but with the strong German heritage in the city, you can't go wrong getting Goetta, which is an amazing breakfast sausage. It's all over the place in the queen city and it's hard to pick exactly who has the best, because it tends to be a very homemade favorite. Now in terms of a restaurant that does not get nearly enough buzz, I have to say The Rookwood. It's not too far from downtown and they have fantastic burgers and some amazing appetizers. It's a nice mix of classy and casual. City BBQ is well known in the city, and it's always a good choice. Now in terms of craft beer? Rhinegeist is your place. It's a newer brewery that's doing amazing things, and their beer hall is pretty fantastic with cornhole and so much space and good beer. Can't go wrong with a Dad from Rhinegeist. Also they let you bring in your own food, so get something to go and take it there for a good time.
5) Is there any one particular guy that has filled the void left behind after Semaj Christon left school after his sophomore season, or are the Musketeers getting that done more by committee this season?
It's been a mix of committee, but unfortunately no one has really filled his void at all. Dee Davis runs the point, and he's solid. We also have Myles Davis and Remy Abell playing shooting guard, and Abell has been sneaky good this season. He's more consistent and makes a lot less dumb mistakes. It's hard to replace a guy who is currently tearing up the D-League, but Dee is a senior and the others definitely have room to grow.
6) Oscar nominations are out. What was the last movie you saw in a theater, and what was the best movie you saw in 2014? It can be something new you saw, or just an old favorite that you watched for the 100th time.
Oh man. This just might be the toughest question that you have asked yet. Last movie I saw in theaters was actually Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and it was last weekend. They opened up a new cinema in my town, and to get everything ready had a special weekend of 2014 flicks to test it out with the proceeds going to charity. I think I have to go with The Lego Movie for best movie I saw in 2014. I honestly did not watch a whole lot of movies due to crazy things going on with work (and binging on House Of Cards), but I caught that film on on-demand over the summer and absolutely loved it. It's a kids movie that's got cute moments and is generally funny, so I was pleasantly surprised. Also Morgan Freeman. (Editor's note: SPACESHIP!)
7) We don't like Dayton very much over at AE, largely because Marquette has lost four out of their last five against the Flyers dating back to 1998, with the most recent two losses being of the excruciatingly stupid variety. You guys have experience with them from your A-10 days, plus they're right down the road a bit, so we have to ask: If the Big East were to expand, are you as dead set against Dayton being added to the conference as we are?
I am a vengeful, hateful person at times, so absolutely, yes, I oppose that move. I do not like them, but I also feel like despite the recent success, they really are not the team that fits the Big East. That being said, I'm not really sure which teams I would want to join us. I really like the 10 team concept and it seems to make things more exciting, but I can see advantages to expanding.
8) Ok, predictions time. Who wins, what's the score, and what's your X factor for the game?
It's a lot less then 24 hours to gametime, so let's do this. Xavier wins, 70-65, and the X factor is going to be The Stain Train who is going to be a menace on the glass. The game is at home, and that's the other X factor. This team has played well at home this year and being at Cintas will treat us well. Regardless, it will be a good game.