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Xavier’s bubble case is stronger

A big win on Saturday means that Xavier controls their own fate

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Xavier
Get this kid on the floor
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

To control one’s own fate is to almost subvert the original Latin of the word. Fatum is a second declension Latin word that carries with it the idea that your fate (the English variation) is something that has been spoken by the gods. The current common idiom makes very little sense when considered that way.

Another thing that has made very little sense (SEGUE!) is Xavier’s basketball season. In order to snatch their destiny out of the hands of the bubble gods, Xavier needed to put together one of their best games of the season directly on the heels of their worst and after losing one of their best players. Improbably enough, they did just that.

Xavier’s bubble chances were hanging by a string coming into the game. They were on the wrong side of the bubble, had a resume consisting of one win, and were slumping badly. None of this meant they were a serious contender for an at-large spot if they didn’t get a win over the Bluejays. This game was as must-win as games in February can possibly be, and Xavier won it.

That is reflected in bracketology and bubble watches across the internet. According to Heat Check CBB, “Xavier is far from “safe” and finishes with a couple of potential landmine matchups with Georgetown and Marquette, but is currently on the right side of the cutline.” ESPN says, “Now, you’re looking at a profile with victories over not only Creighton, but also Oklahoma. Xavier has a chance at a bid, but road games do await at Georgetown and Marquette.” Jerry Palm moved Xavier up off the cut line and into 8/9 game against Maryland with Gonzaga waiting in the second round.

All this optimism does not mean that Xavier’s work is done. Lose to Georgetown or Marquette and the Musketeers are right back down on the edge of the bubble. Their margin for error is razor thin. It’s no secret here that we prefer the cold hard numbers of Bart Torvik’s tournament projector. Right now that method, aggregated from the committee’s usual behavior the years, has Xavier as the last team in the field with a 30% chance of securing a bid for sure. Win the next two and that jumps up to missing the play-in games and lifts the bid chance all the way to 53.5%.

For a team with a NET ranking of 48 there are no easy nights of rest. Xavier has to get a lot better to be a tournament team, but they took an enormous step on Saturday. Their fate may yet wrested from the hands of the gods.