How many games in a row do you think Xavier can win against increasingly difficult Big East competition on consecutive days with an NCAA tournament bid on the line? Until I’m proven wrong, I’m going to assume the answer is four, but let’s make it a bit easier on our guys and see if we can find a way to win that first one for them.
I’m referring, of course, to the Big East’s practice of giving the top six teams in the league a bye to the second round of the conference tournament. Xavier is currently tied for last in the league, so there’s some work to do.
First, let’s identify the competition. For our purposes, Villanova and Marquette are gone. Further, I don’t think Xavier is going to make up two games on St. John’s and Seton Hall, both of whom are 6-6 in the league right now.
The leaves Providence (4-8), Creighton (4-8), DePaul (5-7), Butler (5-7), and Georgetown (5-7) battling for the bye. What follows is a list of results that are all not-too-improbable on their own and would give Xavier the boost it needs to get across the line with a bye.
Xavier defeats Providence, Butler defeats DePaul, Creighton loses to Seton Hall, Georgetown open date
Xavier defeats Seton Hall, Providence defeats St. John’s, Creighton defeats DePaul, Georgetown loses to Villanova, Butler loses to Marquette
Xavier loses to Villanova, Providence loses to Marquette, Creighton defeats Georgetown, Butler and DePaul open date
Xavier loses to St. John’s, Providence loses to Butler, DePaul loses to Georgetown, Creighton open date
Xavier and Providence open date, Creighton loses to Marquette, DePaul loses to St. John’s, Georgetown defeats Seton Hall, Butler loses to Villanova
Xavier defeats Butler, Creighton defeats Providence, DePaul defeats Georgetown,
Xavier defeats St. John’s, Providence defeats Butler, Creighton defeats DePaul, Georgetown loses to Marquette
That leaves the final bottom six of the league table looking like this:
5. Xavier (8-10)
6. Creighton (8-10)
7. Butler (7-11)
8. Georgetown (7-11)
9. DePaul (7-11)
10. Providence (6-12)
All tie-breaking procedures were implemented per current Big East rules.
I’m not saying this exact combination of results is going to happen, just that it could without straining credulity too far, and it would leave Xavier 5th in the conference. That, in turn, would give Xavier the chance to take on probably Seton Hall for the right to play what would most likely be Marquette or Villanova. All X would have to do is win both of those games and then... wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Xavier has a monstrous hill to climb just to get to another monstrous hill to make the NCAA tournament. The first step is this weekend, on the road against Providence. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.