Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Mack doesn't want the underdog role

Chris Mack is not ready to accept that Xavier is the underdog on Thursday. Read on to find out why that is and more.

Chris Mack may be friends with Sean Miller, but that isn’t even close to being his focus this week.

“I think that story was a story that played well the first time around,” Mack said. “I think it's great seeing him and his family and vice versa, but my players don't care about Sean, just as Sean's players don't care about me. It is about our teams and they've had a great season.

“He's done great things at Arizona since he's been there and we want to take advantage of the opportunity. Our guys have earned the right to be here in San Jose, to play for an opportunity to get to the Elite Eight, and that's really what we're focused on.

“Each of us have a few calls from each other's playbook, but other than that players are going to have to execute and figure out the way to get the job done tomorrow night.”

Xavier is the underdog on Thursday, but Mack and his team are not taking that perspective.

“I think it depends on whose expectations you're trying to fulfill,” Mack said. “If you're trying to fulfill the outside world's expectations, sure, we could be thrown in that box, but I’m more worried about the expectations within our own locker room. 

“If those are in check and if those are the priorities, then I don't feel like we feel like we're an underdog.

“You're only an underdog if you feel like you're the lesser team and I don't feel that way about our guys and I don't think they feel that way about each other. 

“Having said that, we recognize how good Arizona is and has been for the entire year, so it's a huge challenge, but every time you go a step of the way in this tournament, every challenge becomes tougher.”

For the most part, Xavier’s offensive strategy won’t change in that it wants to get the ball inside.

“I don't think it's easy to attack any of the teams in the tournament,” Mack said. “That’s who we've always been. We've always wanted to be a team that plays inside/out first. 

“We want to get the ball into the lane, whether it's through post-ups, through drives, through offensive rebounding, through plays.

“The team I think that gets the ball in there the most often gets to the foul line and can also generate better looks from the outside. It's taken our team a little bit longer, especially with the loss of Edmond, who put so much pressure on the defense and got into the lane.

“I've always been a big believer that -- part of that is because that's what Sean and Skip taught me when I was assistants for them, so we didn't try to veer. I think our guys have done a terrific job in the postseason with that in mind on the offensive end.”


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