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Xavier can win without playing their best; can they hit a stride come March?

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Computer systems don't love Xavier the way that polls do right now.

This is not how we converse.
This is not how we converse.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Joel

So I don't want to be a Debbie Downer on a 21-2 team, but we haven't been defending very well in conference. Were we not as good as we looked? Are we slumping? Or is this just because the Big East is better at offense than the teams we played out of conference?

Paul

I've been struggling with this as well. As much as I believe in Kenpom, it's hard to reconcile being 19 there and believing were a top 5 team. I think we're in a bit of a February slump. No need to really think too much into the past 2 games when we have real tests coming up very soon.

Bryan

The fact is that the computer systems do not like ugly wins, which is what we got a pair of this week. I think it was inevitable that the 1-3-1 would quit being as effective when people started dedicating more of their gameplan to beating it.

Brad

It seems like we tend to drop our game against the lesser teams. We knew we could play at 70% and beat SJU, so we did. We didn't get up for Marquette either. My concern is that we end up as a three seed and leave a 14 in the game until all the sudden we're on the wrong end of someone's One Shining Moment. We look a little too comfortable right now.

You know, for being 21-2.

Joel

Is this what being good feels like? I thought it would be more relaxing. Usually at this time of year I'm watching the Muskies climb the bubble. Somehow that's more comfortable, maybe because it's more familiar. This is uncharted territory, all being a top team in a power conference.

Paul

Just wait for March Madness. Xavier can do nothing but disappoint until they're at least 3-0 and potentially even 4-0 based on match ups. Going to be a very uncomfortable first weekend.

Joel

This is a heck of a point. Somewhere along the line we transitioned from the second weekend being a goal to it being an expectation. We're not going to face a St. John's in the Sweet 16 if we get there, but we could very well face a team we "should" beat.

Joel

Good point, Joel. You're the king.

The league is really stratifying now. Xavier and Nova are clearly the top. Providence and Seton Hall (?!) are clearly on the right side of the bubble. Then there's a morass of teams that can't or don't want to make a run. Georgetown is just a nightmare; they can't seem to figure it out. Marquette is a year away, except that their best players will be gone next year. Creighton is really well coached but not that talented.

I think any of those teams is dangerous, but none of them are going to feel comfortable without some serious revamping of their resumes. Those are the teams that scare me, because they're capable of beating you but they'd be bad losses.

Paul

We play 7 straight games against teams fighting for an ncaa berth or a favorable seed, and as you said we have a legitimate chance of dropping any of those 7 games. Realistically though, (knock on wood here) it's hard to imagine a scenario where we're unhappy with our seed on selection Sunday. We've gone 6-0 against teams that would really leave a mark on our resume.

Even going 3-4 down the stretch puts us at a 3(?) seed which, although not ideal, gives us plenty opportunity to make a run. At this point I expect us to drop a couple games to hungrier teams (Butler on Saturday really scares me) but I'm more worried about this team really hitting their stride in the conference tournament to hit the ground running for the dance.

Joel

Air Jesuit - who everyone should be following on Twitter - pointed out that Xavier's final seven games are against teams with RPIs in the to 100. That's not just a serious murderer's row down the stretch; it's also a septet of games that can basically only help Xavier's resume. The Committee is not going to ding the Muskies for dropping a two or three of those games, and they're not going to bury them for dropping four or five.

Executing down the stretch in the A10 meant getting a single-digit seed sewn up. Executing down the stretch in the Big East means building a case for a #1 and making sure you're in the protected top 4. If Xavier can get everything clicking at the same time heading into the tournament, there's a chance we see the most important six-game winning streak in program history.