It’s a simple question: can Xavier still earn an at large bid in the NCAA tournament? The answer, however, is decidedly more complicated than the question that spurs it. The Musketeers hang on the very thinnest edge of the bubble. In front of them now are only quality wins, barring the truly shocking.
The current scenario:
As things stand now, Xavier isn’t earning an at large bid. That’s the cold truth we need to face first. The Bracket Matrix compiles all 76 of the serious bracketology projections in one place. There, you’ll find exactly one that has Xavier in the field right now. It’s not one you’ve ever heard of, either. Teams like Toledo, Lipscomb, Indiana, and Alabama all appear in far more projections than Xavier. As things stand, X is out of the field without the auto bid.
You likely knew already that Xavier wasn’t in as of today. You don’t accrue no good non-conference wins, lose to San Diego State, and then have a six game swoon in Big East play and find yourself in a good position. Very simply put, even the most rose colored of looks at Xavier’s road ahead needs them to win at least two Big East conference tournament games to have a chance. (Win three, obviously, and things sort themselves.) “A trip to the Big East tournament semifinals (which Xavier has reached every year since it joined the league) would keep this conversation going.” That is ESPN’s Bubble Watch, and that one sentence is what Xavier Nation is hanging on right now. Win two and have the slimmest of chances.
There aren’t many people who share that opinion. Jerry Palm at CBS doesn’t even have Xavier on the bubble, neither does USA Today or SB Nation’s Chris Dobbertean. Joe Lunardi differs with the Bubble Watch squad and also has Xavier out of it. According to Bart Torvik’s resume generator, no one with Xavier’s projected finishing numbers has ever scored an at large bid.
Even in a hopeful scenario, Xavier needs help. Chalk has to win in conference tournaments. A single bid thief, like a Wofford loss tonight, and that disappearing bubble spot shrinks the likely already vanishing margin even more. If Xavier doesn’t win two, or wins two but then gets rolled in the final, the at large is gone.
The condensed version:
Win three: In with the auto-bid.
Win two: The longest of bubble long shots, and that only because we are fans.
Anything less: The NIT.