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The Case for Hope: Was that enough?

Xavier added another Q1 and got one step closer to sealing up a bid.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Georgetown
Hip hop hooray
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

On January 15th Xavier’s NET hit it’s nadir at 69th. Until the 1st of February it hovered in the 60s as the Musketeers struggled through the start of Big East play. Prior to that day’s huge win at Seton Hall, Xavier was dead in the water.

A month on and the Musketeers are in much better shape. Their win Sunday over Georgetown was their second highest NET win of the season. Teams that X has played are popping between Q1 and Q2, but the Musketeers are 10-10 in those two crucial quadrants and undefeated in the bottom two. Xavier’s NET is now 43rd as they slowly strengthen their position on the bubble.

As things stand now, Xavier is in the tournament and can only play themselves out. 96 brackets reported to Bracket Matrix this morning, 96 of them included the Musketeers. On aggregate, those 96 have Xavier as the top nine seed as things stand right now. Joe Lunardi agrees and has Xavier with a bye, as does Jeff Borzello, Chris Dobbertean, and almost literally everyone else. Bart Torvik’s pure numbers and historical trends approach has Xavier with an 81.8% chance of making the tournament and landing at a 10 seed. Right now, X is in.

But that’s just right now. Xavier has two games left (at Providence and home to Butler), and they can both help and hurt themselves. Split them, either way really, and Xavier holds serve. They would grab another Q1 win and increase their tournament chances easily into the mid 80%s. Get that win and it’s a done deal. Win both games and Xavier is an NCAA tournament lock going into the Big East tournament.

Losing both is hardly out of the question, though. There may be no hotter team in college ball right now than Providence. The Friars have won four straight and two of those are over Seton Hall and Villanova. Xavier has to travel to the Dunkin Donuts Center to play that one. Buter at home could equally challenging. The Bulldogs have been a consistent top 20 team in the NET and is top 30 in both KenPom and Bart Torvik.

So what if Xavier loses both of those games? Per Torvik, that would lower X’s at large chances to 68% and drop them to the top of the last four in. That 68% mark would still be 8% higher than any other team that Torvik’s system projects to make the field. Throw in a first round win over St. John’s or DePaul and Xavier moves back into the first round byes.

As things stand, the Musketeers look good. Win one more game and they look like a lock, win two and they are a lock. Lose two and things get a bit nerve wracking yet again. All things considered, though, the team looks a lot better than it did back in early January. March is here, Xavier looks solid. Some things rarely change.