ST. LOUIS, MO (FOX19) - Entering tournament play with what could be their best ever chance to make a Final Four, the Xavier basketball team is using a simple message to maintain focus.
They call it "40 minutes to Houston."
"I don't want them to think we don't have the opportunity to play for Houston (host of the Final Four) until three more games," said head coach Chris Mack. "How hard would you play if these 40 minutes on Friday night determine if you are going to Houston or not? Because, in a weird way it does."
Xavier opens the tournament with the school's best ever seed and is a heavy favorite to beat Weber State in the first round of the East region in St. Louis.
It'll take four wins to get to the Final Four in Houston, but the team wants to make sure they're just as hungry for the first round as they would be in the regional final.
"We have to play every game like it's that last game to get to the Final Four," added leading scorer Trevon Bluiett. "Weber State, we look at it like it's an Elite Eight game. If we want to go to Houston, this is the game we have got to win."
The Musketeers had a public shoot-around at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis Thursday evening. They will play Weber State in the first round at approximately 9:20 pm on Friday night.
Xavier has been ranked in the top ten for 14 straight weeks and don't feel like Friday's game needs to be a statement to the country, just a game they need to win.
"It's not any certain statement," said Myles Davis. "But, hopefully, people will watch us and see how good we are and be on our side throughout the tournament."