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Xavier is #30 in the initial NET rankings

The Muskies have done an admirable job handling their business early in the season.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Oklahoma State
Huzzah!
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA has released the first iteration of the NET rankings for the season, and your Xavier Musketeers are just outside the top 25 at 30th. As the NET is more of a sorting tool than a ranking one (if that makes any sense), the ranking of your opponents is probably at least as important as your own. Xavier has 8 opponents so far this season, and they've all held up as expected (with one happy exception).

That exception is Iowa State, Xavier's only loss of the year. They've jumped from 232nd in the preseason to 20th today, turning that from a Q4 loss for X into a Q1 one. Xavier is 3-1 in the top quadrant, with wins over OSU, a different OSU, and Va Tech to go with that lone loss. Further down the table, X is 2-0 in Q3 (Kent State, Niagara) and 2-0 in Q4 (Norfolk State, Central Michigan). The Muskies are yet to contest their first Q2 game of the year.

Looking down the road, Xavier has 7 more Q1 games remaining on the schedule. These are both Nova games, both UConn games, both Seton Hall games, and the road trip to Providence. They also have 6 Q2 games left: home to Providence, the Crosstown Shootout, and then road trips to Marquette, Creighton, DePaul, and St. John's.

Each of those 13 games represents an opportunity for Xavier to improve its resume. They're currently 3-1 in Q1 games, but the Oklahoma State win in particular looks like it might drop to Q2 before the season is out, and Va Tech game might suffer the same fate. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility for X to end up with a protected seed this year, but it will be incumbent on the team to continue to compile strength at the top end of the resume to get that to happen.

Getting those top end wins won't be easy. Villanova is currently 6th in the KenPom; Pomeroy gives X a 22% chance at winning at Nova and just a 43% chance of winning at home. The nation's favorite algorithm has X with just better than a 1 in 3 chance of winning the road games at Seton Hall and UConn and basically a coin toss shot on the road to Providence. About 60% win probabilities adorn the home games against Seton Hall and UConn to round out the (currently) Q1 games. Additionally, Xavier holds about a 75% chance at each of the Q2 games according to Pomeroy.

The math - which I acknowledge is more of an intellectual exercise than a practical one at this stage - works out to Xavier hitting the Big East tournament at about 6-5 in Q1 and 4-2 in Q2. Those are the top end numbers of a very good resume, and I don't think it's unrealistic to hope that - leaving aside for the moment the possibility of any given game sliding around between quads - Xavier hits postseason play with something resembling them.

In that compiling good wins is important, avoiding bad losses is almost certainly at least equally so. The Big East is rife with resume poison this year, more so in years past. Home games against Marquette, Creighton, DePaul, and St. John's and the road trip to Butler all fall in Q3 (as does the remaining home game against Morehead State), and home to Butler and both games against Georgetown join the Ball State but game in Q4. Teams that want to snag favorable matchups in March don't stumble into too many of these punji pits along the way.

Of course, it's all theoretical until they roll the ball out there. A season is a lifetime, and Xavier's execution over the course of it is only part of the equation. With a quarter of the road already in the rearview, the Muskies are looking good.