CINCINNATI – Xavier coach Chris Mack wanted to make a point: The NCAA Tournament is not life-or-death.
Mack almost broke into tears when he told reporters that his wife and kids had been hit head-on by a drunk driver last week.
Mack was talking Sunday after the NCAA selection committee put his Musketeers in a play-in game rather than the main 64-team bracket. He acknowledged that fans would be disappointed.
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"To put it into perspective, seven days ago I got a knock on my door from a neighbor who said my wife was in an auto accident an eighth of a mile from my house, " Mack said.
"I got to the scene. The car went to the other side of the double-yellow (and) hit my wife head-on. A drunk driver blew a .25 with my kids in the car."
Then he choked up.
"I'm as excited as it gets to be in the NCAA tournament. And, ahhh, whew ... (pausing) …
"That was really, really hard.
"You tell me we're playing in Dayton and fans are going to boo me. Great. Great. My kids boo me when I put them to bed and 'Goodluck Charlie' is on (the Disney Channel).
"So let's go."
Mack's wife, Christi, told WCPO she broke two bones in her left arm and will be in a cast for six weeks.
Their two daughters, 6-year-old Hailee and 7-year-old Lainee, also had minor injuries, she said.
"Girls had mild concussions and seatbelt bruises but are doing great! We were very lucky!" she said in a Facebook message.
The suspected drunk driver, 50-year-old Kelly Potter, is a youth minister. She had a blood alcohol level of .251 - three times the legal limit, police said.
Potter is the minister for children and families at Immanuel United Methodist Church in Lakeside Park, Ky. She acknowledged the accident but refused other comment for this story.
Potter is out on a $1,000 cash bond, charged with aggravated DUI. The accident happened on Thomas More Parkway.
Xavier (21-12) meets North Carolina State (23-13) at 9:10 p.m. Tuesday night at University of Dayton Arena. The winner gets a 12th seed and faces fifth-seeded Saint Louis (26-6) in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday.
Xavier was set to get a berth in the main bracket after beating Marquette in the first round of the Big East Tournament Thursday, most "bracketologists" reported.
But when Providence upset Creighton in the Big East championship game Saturday, the Friars won the NCAA berth and dropped Xavier into the First Four round.
Xavier missed the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 2005, so Mack said he was happy to be going back, no matter where the committee sent them.
"I'm beyond excited. Making the NCAA tournament is not a birthright," said Mack. "I've been very fortunate. This is my 12th NCAA Tournament in the last 14 years. We've made eight of the last nine now. It's a special feeling."
"I've never felt like it was an automatic. I know our fans might feel that way.
"We missed out last year and it was disappointing, but I'm happy for this group to be able to enjoy this experience."