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One game, a million different scenarios

There is only one day of Big East play left, but hardly anything is settled yet.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-St. John’s vs Xavier
Will it be a Big East tournament rematch?
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

To say that anything can happen in the Big East on this Saturday is only the smallest of exaggerations. With one game remaining all that is settled is that Villanova and Marquette are one and two. That’s it and that’s all. Somehow, after months of basketball, everything is there to play for most of the teams remaining in the league.

Obviously, the big cherry left to be picked are the first day byes in the Big East tournament. Providence is not going to get one of those. Butler and DePaul both still can, but they need to win and hope that all kinds of dominoes fall their way. They can also both win and still end up in that bottom group of four that requires winning four games in four days to win the tournament.

You likely aren’t here because you are a Butler or DePaul fan, though. Xavier lingers on the line where things could still go poorly for them, or land them in third place in the conference. In a season where things have been all over the place, it seems fitting that the Musketeers still face scenarios that can change their fate with only a week to play.

Xavier wins:

  1. If the Musketeers win and the teams above them still matter (ie. not Villanova and Marquette) lose, the Musketeers are third in the conference and play Seton Hall on the second day of the Big East tournament. Marquette would, in theory, be waiting in the semi-final.
  2. If the Musketeers win but Georgetown, Creighton, and Seton Hall all also win, Xavier takes the tiebreakers and finishes fourth behind Seton Hall and plays Creighton in the second round with Villanova waiting for the winner in the semi-final.
  3. But wait, there’s more. If Xavier, Creighton, and Georgetown win and Seton Hall loses, the Pirates drop all the way into the first day, Xavier finishes fourth and plays the Hoyas in the second round with Nova, again, waiting.
  4. This could go on forever, but there are also scenarios in which Xavier plays DePaul in the second round, plays Butler in the second round, or, of course, play St. John’s again. The important takeaway is that a win guarantees a bye.

Xavier loses:

  1. If Xavier loses but Butler, Seton Hall, Marquette, and DePaul win, Xavier needs four in four.
  2. If Xavier loses but either Butler or DePaul lose, the Musketeers still take a bye. If Butler and DePaul both win, tiebreakers knock the Musketeers back into the four in four morass.

Most likely scenario:

According to KenPom and Sagarin the most likely set of results is this: Xavier wins, Villanova beats Seton Hall, Butler wins over Providence, Marquette knocks off Georgetown, and Creighton beats DePaul. If that happens, Xavier finishes third in the Big East, and will play Georgetown with the winner likely playing Marquette in the second round. If all of this is just too complex, just remember that Xavier needs to win four straight to get into the tournament. The easiest way to do that is by making tomorrow the first of those four.