Xavier is officially the Cinderella team of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
The 11th-seeded Musketeers advanced to the Elite Eight with a bracket-busting 73-71 win over No. 2 Arizona on Thursday in San Jose.
The Wildcats (32-5) were a popular pick to reach the Final Four, but it will be the Musketeers (24-13) to face No. 1 Gonzaga (35-1) on Saturday.
Here are three reasons why Xavier was able to pull off the upset of Arizona:
1. Arizona's inability to close —The Wildcats went on a 10-0 run to hold a 69-61 lead with 3:45 remaining and held a 71-64 lead with 2:52 on the clock. But the Wildcats missed their final four shots and had a couple of turnovers in the closing minutes to allow Xavier to rally for the win.
The Wildcats needlessly rushed shots and panicked once the Musketeers pressed them with a suffocating defense. Arizona coachSean Miller waited too long to call a timeout to calm his team down with 1:09 remaining. By then, it was too late.
2. Trevon Bluiett put his team on his back — Bluiett scored five points and had a steal in the final minutes before getting credit for the assist onSean O'Mara's eventual game-winner with 44 seconds remaining. Bluiett finished with 25 points and a pair of assists. He is averaging 25 points per game in upsets over the three of the top six seeds in the West Region.
Without Bluiett on the floor, it's unlikely the Wildcats are able to rip off a 9-0 run to close out the victory.
3. Miller's lack of direction— Xavier's rally was helped by Arizona's ice-cold shooting. Arizona's zone offense was completely stagnant in the final four minutes. There was little dribble penetration and Allonzo Trier rushed a contested 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining. Trier finished with 19 points, but was just 8 of 19 from the floor and 3 of 10 from behind the arc.
The Wildcats as a team were 7 of 27 from 3-point range. Instead of being patient with the ball, the Wildcats decided to keep throwing up 3s instead of trying to get the ball inside to their two 7-footers in Lauri Markkanen and Dusan Ristic. That's more on Miller than Trier or any other player. Miller has never been to a Final Four and it was his former team that ended his shot at finally getting there this year.