Down 19 in the second half to the best offensive team in the nation, Xavier felt very much dead and buried. A spirited comeback came up just a bit short, but kept the Musketeers from leaving selection committee members with the very fresh memory of a complete blowout in a nationally televised game. How much difference the final game of the season makes is probably debatable, but it's definitely better to make it a contest than to shuffle quietly into that good night. Xavier's comeback was the sign of a team ready to play on into March.
As of this typing, Xavier's RPI rank is 47th. Everyone agreed that RPI is a terrible measure of how good a team is and doesn't accurately measure anything very well. That doesn't stop the NCAA from using it as the major metric in deciding who gets in and who doesn't. The lowest ranked teams to get in recently are 64th and 67th ranked USC and Marquette back in 2011. The Musketeers are well above that basement mark, and boast more good wins than either of those teams.
The highest ranked teams to be left out though, will give Xavier fans a bit of pause. 21st ranked Missouri St and #30 Hofstra both didn't go in 2006. One year later, a 30th ranked Air Force squad went to the NIT. A year after that, Dayton was 32nd in the RPI and didn't make the big dance. Last year, it was 31st ranked Southern Miss that felt snubbed. 33 different times a team in the top 40 of the RPI didn't make the tournament. Only three times since 1992 has every team in the top 40 made the field of 64/68. Obviously, those are warnings that Xavier, at 47th, is not completely secure right now.
RPI isn't the only factor in making the tournament though, and that helps the Musketeers. While just last year a team (Tennessee) with nine top 100 RPI wins missed the tournament, that's not all that common. Xavier was 9-9 this year. X also managed a very good strength of schedule and really only tanked completely three times (USC, Seton Hall, and then Seton Hall again).
So where does that leave Xavier come evening Sunday? Most likely, in, but there is some trepidation. Joe Lunardi of ESPN has Xavier sitting directly on the lock line, Jeff Borzello of CBS has X several spots above the cut line, but in danger if there are bids stolen. So, cheer for chalk, keep a close on our Bubble Watch, invoke your deity of choice, and hope that the committee wants to see more of a team that just never gives up.