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Xavier is carrying around something very odd in its locker room during March Madness

By Alex Butler
Xavier is carrying around something very odd in its locker room during March Madness
Xavier celebrates a March Madness victory in its locker room. (Xavier Basketball/Twitter)

March 22 (UPI) -- This time is different for the Xavier Musketeers.

While it's playing in its seventh Sweet 16 since 2004, it has only advanced past the round twice in school history. But this year, the No. 11 seed has something special on its side.

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The team is carrying a jar filled with ashes, according to an ESPN report. Those ashes aren't from a human being, but from Xavier's month of February woes. The Musketeers had a six-game losing streak that didn't end until March 1. After that victory, the Musketeers lost just once, before heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Assistant coach Mike Pegues had the idea of burning a calendar during the Musketeers' skid, to put the month of February in the past.

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ESPN's Jeff Borzello reported the story of the makeshift 'urn.'

"The coaches went onto Walmart's website looking for urns, something none of them had ever done," Borzello wrote. "They sent graduate assistant Allen Payne out to the store to pick one up, but the one they wanted wasn't available anymore. So they settled on a jar that wasn't technically an urn, but it was glass, and you can see inside of it. It would suffice."

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Xavier lost its first game after burning the calendar. It's only loss after that was against Creighton in the Big East tournament title game.

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"We had a big aluminum trash can in the middle of the locker room," Mack told Borzello. "We made sure all the smoke detectors and alarms were off. Everybody burned it."

The Musketeers look to extend its March Madness magic with a win Thursday night against No. 2 Arizona in San Jose, Calif.

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"I don't even know where to start," Mack told reporters after the Musketeers' win against Florida State. "I'm so excited for the guys next to me and the guys in the locker room. They earned it. Our team's gone through a lot of adversity this year, and we stayed the course. We had a meeting at the beginning of the year, and we talked about how tough of a feeling it was in St. Louis in that locker room when we lost to Wisconsin. Instead of just saying "attack", when we broke huddles, we wanted to talk about attacking and finishing. Man, we finished today."

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"I'm really proud of this group. The biggest thing for us going into this game today was to be able to take care of the ball, not get Florida State out in transition where they're phenomenal, and try to keep them off the glass. We've been a pretty good rebounding team all year, but we never faced the size and athleticism we saw today. We really passed the test in those two areas, and it gave us a chance to win. I thought guys played really loose on offense, and I'm really happy for these guys."

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