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Cause for optimism

Xavier played a bad game on Saturday, but there's no reason for panic.

Villanova v Xavier Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Things didn't go well for Xavier on Saturday. Losing to Villanova hurt the Musketeers bubble chances and chopped down their margin for error a great deal. Such is life in a major conference when you start 1-4.

That doesn't mean all is doom and gloom. If you haven't thrown in the towel and announced that Xavier needs at least two Big East tournament wins to get an at-large bid (they don't right now), there are reasons to think X can still do well.

The Defense is Great

Since the turnaround started, Xavier has been playing great defense. The Musketeers are 18th in the nation overall for the season and 13th in the last ten games. That's elite. In Saturday's loss Xavier's defense was more than good enough to win against one of the best offenses in the nation. The offense isn't good and hasn't been good, but Xavier has a puncher's chance in any game they play.

The Bubble is Unimpressive

Along with Xavier on the bubble are teams like ASU, Indiana, Liberty, UNI, and the rest of the bottom of the Big East. Some of those teams have as many Q1 wins as Xavier, some have played as many Q1 games, but none can claim to have a better resume overall. Wichita State, just above Xavier in NET, is 2-4 in Q1 games and has one left. Arkansas, just below X, is 2-6 and has one left. Wichita State still has two Q3 games left. X doesn't have that to worry about. Win Tuesday and there are only good wins left on the board.

It's Almost March

If you can't feel some optimism as the creeping malaise that is February seeps slowly into the past, you likely don't experience much joy in life. March is almost here. You could, at this point, put a Jr high team in Nova's uniforms and X would lose to them. That is now in the past. The teams Xavier has left they have a +9 margin against over the year. That's not overwhelming, but it shows that every game left is very winnable. Xavier isn't in a bad spot. They overcame a stumble to start the season and played themselves on to the right side of the bubble. All that remains is to finish it off.