Xavier could have grabbed a quadrant one win last night. They could have moved to 3-5 in the conference and simultaneously burnished their at-large resume with the win it do desperately needs. Instead, they went 11-25 from the line and lost in heartbreaking fashion. After a game in which Quentin Goodin roared back on to the scene, Naji Marshall played his heart out, and Tyrique Jones monstered everyone on the glass, the Musketeers came up just short. Now they are 2-6, likely doomed to sub .500 in the Big East, and floundering.
Where does this leave Xavier? Approaching this realistically, it leaves them not making it to 9-9 conference play. Here are the upcoming matchups and their NET rankings:
@ Seton Hall (13)
@ DePaul (64)
v. Providence (78)
@ Butler (9)
@ St. John’s (72)
v. Villanova (11)
v. DePaul (64)
@ Georgetown (52)
@ Providence (78)
v. Butler (9)
Xavier is 2-6 now. To get to .500 they must go 7-3 the rest of the way. Squint hard at that list. Where do you see seven wins? That is likely an impossibility at this point. That means Xavier has to harvest big wins.
Butler, twice, Villanova, and Seton Hall all represent chances for big wins for the Musketeers. They likely need to grab at least two of those for their at large resume to shape up. Even if both of them come at home in the form of wins over Villanova and Butler, that would likely be enough so long as there isn’t a completely crippling loss.
That means not losing to Providence at the Cintas. Do that and X might as well start the prep for an NIT game. (On a personal note, I’d rather they just turn down an invite than do that again). Losing to the Friars would be a Q3 loss that would be difficult to recover from. Assuming that the Musketeers don’t do that and do manage to grab those two other wins, where would that leave them?
Lose to Seton Hall and DePaul away, beat Providence, lose to Butler, win three straight, lose to Georgetown away, beat Providence and Butler to end things out. That means stealing the SJU game on the road and getting the two big wins mentioned above. 19-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big East would, according to the Torvik projections, leave Xavier as the first team out. In our simulation that leaves X playing St. John’s in the Big East with Seton Hall waiting in the next round.
That is, of course, a rose colored glasses look at what is left. Are there any games left on the schedule that you are sure Xavier will win? They, after all, just lost to Marquette in a game in which Markus Howard played only 25 of 50 minutes. Things are grim right now, but maybe there is still just a little bit of hope.