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The Case for Hope: Still in the balance

Xavier should be in, but they missed a great chance to seal the deal.

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

Since we started doing this look at Xavier’s tournament chances after each game, it has appeared that they needed to 2-2 in their final four games to get in. They have now assured themselves of that. The Musketeers knocked off DePaul and picked up a great Q1 win at Georgetown before dropping a tough road game at Providence. 2-2 guaranteed, 3-1 still possible, bid theoretically in the bag. And yet...

It’s hard to feel extremely confident in the way a win over Providence would have assured. Xavier is 10-11 in top quadrant games, still has no bad losses, and still is on a 6-3 run in the toughest conference in the nation. Prior to yesterday’s game the Bracket Matrix had Xavier as a lock playing another team that was a lock. Bart Torvik still has Xavier with an 80% chance to make the tournament and KenPom still has Xavier at 44th, above the usual at-large bid cut line in his metric. By all logic, Xavier should be in.

But there lies a world of emotion between “should be in” and “a lock.” Xavier could conceivably lose to Butler and then lose to DePaul or St. John’s in the first round of the BET. Do that and Bart Torvik drops Xavier to a 69% chance of making it and back into the play-in games. That’s still a good chance of being in, but it leads to an enormously tense Selection Sunday. That remains Xavier’s one chance at stumbling out of this thing at the last hour.

If Xavier beats Butler on Saturday their chances of making the tournament jump to 84% pre Big East Tournament. Even a loss to DePaul in the first round would only drop that to 82%. Beat DePaul in the first round (DePaul is being used here because they are the worst case scenario for an opponent) and the number jumps to 85%, a lock. Beat Butler and get a BET bye and X remains at 85% because any likely opponent is a Q1 game.

So here we are again. Xavier should be in as it stands. They’re a lock if the beat Butler, they can make things interesting by losing out. As ever in March, things are getting nervy.