When the University of Massachusetts lost 99-94 to a mediocre St. Bonaventure team on Feb. 20, the Minutemen’s NCAA Tournament at-large hopes went on life support.
The loss was the third straight defeat for UMass, dropping the Minutemen to 16-9 (6-6 Atlantic 10).
But UMass bounced back from that loss with a solid home win Feb. 23 against Dayton and then really improved its Big Dance resume with a 77-72 upset victory at Xavier on Saturday. The Minutemen, who were four-point underdogs, were red hot from long range, hitting a season-high 52 percent of their 3-pointers (13 of 25). Terrell Vinson and Freddie Riley combined for 10 long-range shots, and the win snapped a three-game road losing streak and five-game skid at Xavier.
UMass (18-9, 8-6) now has an RPI of 54. On the positive side, the Minutemen have seven wins over RPI top-100 teams, with a best victory against No. 39 La Salle. UMass also doesn’t have any losses to sub-150 teams, although defeats to George Washington (No. 146) an...