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Xavier hits Big East play needing something borderline unprecedented

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It will take something just short of a miracle for X to get the wins they need for at-large consideration.

Maui Invitational - Auburn v Xavier Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

You know the story. Xavier is 8-5 in non-conference play with a total of no big wins. Every opportunity to build anything resembling a resume went unclaimed, leaving the Muskies far adrift of where they need to be.

The KenPom has Xavier finishing 8-10 in conference play, which plainly won't do it. The idea of any 16-15 team making the tournament is so absurd that it doesn't bear dwelling upon.

Xavier needs probably at least 4 wins before the Big East tournament beyond what they're projected to get. The question becomes where they might find them.

KenPom's wins for Xavier are their home games against Seton Hall, Georgetown, Providence, DePaul, and St. John's. That's right, not a single road win, not even against the dregs of the league. The other three they're projecting are purely procedural.

For the sake of this exercise, we will take the next three highest win probability games for Xavier and add them to the total. Those are, in chronological order, at DePaul (45%), at Georgetown (47%), and home to Creighton (49%). There are your eight wins. Let's go find four more.

I'm going to reverse engineer it at this point and start kicking out games I don't think it's reasonable to stake any hope on. I'm going to ditch both Nova games (they're just too much better than Xavier this year and they shoot a ton of threes) and both Marquette games (they make a ton of threes as a team and - in Markus Howard and the Hauser boys - have three guys who shoot the eyes out of the ball).

That leaves six games, of which Xavier needs to win four. In chronological order, they are: Butler at home (45%), at Creighton (26%), at Providence (34%), at Seton Hall (32%), at St. John's (31%), and at Butler (22%). Just from a math perspective, Xavier projects to find 2 wins in that stretch.

Now ask yourself: do you see them beating the odds to pick up two more? Do you think they can contain two monstrously effective three-point shooting offenses in Nova and Marquette enough to grab a win (or more) in those four games?

Keep in mind, this is assuming Xavier wins every game they have even a 51% chance to win per KenPom and converts some tight losses into presumably tight wins. Even then, Xavier sits at 20-11, probably needing at least one Big East tournament win to feel good on Selection Sunday.

A season is a lifetime. Conference play is a rebirth. I'm just not sure Xavier can overcome the karmic debt they've assembled for themselves.