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Xavier is clinging to the bubble

Xavier has gone from a sure thing to just barely there.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Things are not looking up for Xavier right now. You can’t play the way the Musketeers have in the last four games and remain a solid NCAA tournament team. Xavier is now on the very edge of the bubble or off the back side.

According to the Bracket Matrix Xavier is the last team in to miss the play-in games. The Oklahoma win continues to age well, as does the win over Toledo. Other than that Xavier has no resume to speak of. The looming game against Creighton is absolutely vital in that regard. The other two games are Q2s. Xavier needs those wins, but they aren’t going to bolster a thin resume the way a win over Creighton would.

ESPN and Heat Check are not so excited on X’s chances. ESPN has the Musketeers firmly in the work to do category. It depends on which of their personalities you ask whether Xavier is actually in or not, but they are firmly on the cut line. Heat Check now has Xavier out of the field. At CBS Jerry Palm has Xavier as an 8 seed. No one else in the nation has them that high, so take that projection with a hearty pinch of salt.

Xavier’s computer numbers aren’t good. The Musketeers NET is now down to 58th. That’s well within the range of teams risking missing the tournament. If the 58th team doesn’t make it, it’s not exactly a snub. Xavier’s quality of win and resume strength numbers are also trending down. On the KenPom X is now 61st, they are 52nd on the Sagarin, and 55th in Bart Torvik’s rankings. All of these have some impact on the committee’s selection. being below 40th in any of them is cause for concern.

Bart Torvik also has a tool in which all NCAA tournaments and bubble teams are aggregated and trends analyzed. This tool then spits out a mathematical result for how teams with similar resumes or similar efficiency profiles would have done with regards to making the tournament. The findings aren’t good for X. Of the teams with the closest matching profiles/resumes to Xavier in recent history, only 20% have made the tournament.

The tool can also be used to project how a team looks for this year. Right now, Torvik has Xavier as the seventh team out. Lose to Creighton and win the last two and the barely moves, with Xavier up to the fifth team out as they head to MSG. Win out and Xavier jumps over all the other bubble line teams and up to being a team that misses the play in games all together. It is difficult to overstate how important Saturday’s game is for Xavier’s tournament chances.

We break the bubble and Xavier’s recent play down more here in our weekly podcast. Give a listen and find out why maybe everything isn’t quite as bleak as it seems.