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Xavier has a big week ahead of them

After the high of the huge win over Seton Hall, Xavier has a chance to pick up some momentum for the stretch run.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Seton Hall
He works out.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier, somewhat improbably for a team that just lost 5 of 6 before beating Seton Hall, is still very much in the mix for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. If the bracket were being filled today, Muskie fans would be sweating it out, but there aren't that many bubble teams with better wins than at Seton Hall.

The bracket isn't being filled today - in fact, we've still got to fight through all of the worst month in the year before we get down to brass tacks in that regard. While there are 9 games left on Xavier's schedule and at least 1 Big East Tournament matchup yet to be determined, this week's two games offer a unique opportunity to the Muskies.

Xavier currently sits at 14-8 and 3-6 in conference. The resume is something of a soup sandwich, but Warren Nolan has X as 2-7 in Q1, 4-1 in Q2, and 8-0 in the bottom 2 quads. Bart Torvik's wins above bubble metric has Xavier at 0. That means a bubble team would have done exactly what Xavier has against this schedule to this point, and the resume - while holding no bad losses - has a discouraging amount of losses in general.

The games at DePaul and home to Providence this week are both big chances but still very winnable games. DePaul has solid efficiency numbers, but it's fair to question whether those reflect the team that went 12-1 in the non-con rather than the team that is 1-8 in Big East play. Providence gives X a chance to play in front of the home faithful against a team that, as I write this, has dropped 3 of 4 in league play.

KenPom gives Xavier a 42% chance to win at DePaul and a 68% chance of knocking off Providence. If math serves me, that's something just shy of a 30% chance of winning them both, which is coincidentally about twice the win probability that Pomeroy's algorithm served up at tip off against Seton Hall.

If Xavier can pull off both wins, they'll move to 3-7 in Q1 and 5-1 in Q2. A sweep on the week would also garner them about .9 WAB, jumping from right on the bubble by that metric to something around 40th in the country. In, if not exactly comfortable. It would also move X to 5-6 in league play, within touching distance of .500.

It won't be easy. Both of these teams' most recent win is against Butler, a top-15 team in the KenPom. Neither is going to roll over just because Xavier has work to do and just sent a message at Seton Hall. If the team that shows up in South Orange* is here to stay, the Muskies have a fighting chance of using this week to set themselves up for a run at something special.