It’s no secret that Xavier is behind the eight ball in terms of chasing down an at-large bid. In the below tweet, Andy Mac lays out the case for Xavier needing 7 more wins to get an at-large bid:
Again-assuming(and assuming can make an ass of you and me) either MU or VU win the BE Tourney and the automatic NCAA bid. 10 BE wins should get a team in. Xavier is now 3-3. XU would need to go 7-5 over the last 12 games. 6 home games remain. 5-1 would be nice. That would mean— Andy Mac (@mm_andymac) January 21, 2019
A 10-8 performance in conference would leave Xavier at 18-13 heading into the Big East tournament, probably lingering somewhere in the 60s in most reputable metrics. I don’t know that that would get it done. Back in December, I laid out the road to an at-large bid and paved it with a 12-win conference performance. Click through to read that little masterpiece.
The below spreadsheet lays out where we are six games into conference play. It’s basically self-explanatory, but the last four columns are what I projected we needed from the game, it’s actual result, how many wins X has, and how many wins Xavier needs at that point to be keeping pace with my projection. If a result has a 2⁄3 in it, it’s one of the games in the group of 6 that Xavier needs 4 wins from. To wit:
|KP win%||Hope||Result||Total W||Par|
|Sun Dec 29||at DePaul||W||W||1||1|
|Wed Jan 2||Seton Hall||W||L||1||2|
|Sun Jan 6||at Marquette||L||L||1||2|
|Wed Jan 9||Georgetown||W||W||2||3|
|Sun Jan 13||Butler||2/3||W||3||3 2/3|
|Fri Jan 18||at Villanova||L||L||3||3 2/3|
|Wed Jan 23||Providence||61%||W||4 2/3|
|Sat Jan 26||Marquette||42%||L||4 2/3|
|Thu Jan 31||at Georgetown||41%||W||5 2/3|
|Sun Feb 3||at Creighton||28%||2/3||6 1/3|
|Sat Feb 9||DePaul||69%||W||7 1/3|
|Wed Feb 13||Creighton||52%||W||8 1/3|
|Sat Feb 16||at Providence||36%||2/3||9|
|Wed Feb 20||at Seton Hall||29%||2/3||9 2/3|
|Sun Feb 24||Villanova||41%||L||9 2/3|
|Thu Feb 28||at St. John's||26%||2/3||10 1/3|
|Tue Mar 5||at Butler||23%||2/3||11|
|Sat Mar 9||St. John's||50%||W||12|
Right now, Xavier is 1-0 in the wild card games, but they’ve fallen behind pace thanks to the home loss to Seton Hall. That’s what makes this week so important.
To continue to mount their improbable assault on the bubble, the Muskies need to win a game I punted. Marquette at home represents just such an opportunity this Saturday. Xavier defended well against the Golden Eagles at their place but couldn’t get a shot to fall and fell victim to the game of Sacar Anim’s life.
Of course, no Big East game is a tap in, and Providence looms in the mid-week fixture. I think X needs to go 9-3 down the stretch in the conference, so there isn’t much of a margin for any stumbles. If they execute this week, you can’t talk me out of there being life left in the season.
For what it’s worth, Bart Torvik’s Teamcast tool sees a 19-win regular season having Xavier on the wrong side of the bubble with a bid chance of about 27%. If they get that 20th win, it jumps to 61% and a trip to Dayton. The team has taken huge strides forward since the beginning of the year. I’m not betting against them having it in them. One game at a time.