I can confirm Rick's report. Xavier is looking into adding more games following last night's loss to Butler.— Adam Baum (@AdamJBaum) March 11, 2021
I'm working to gather more information at the moment. https://t.co/VZfPLTuHgT
The only way that Xavier could possibly survive a bad loss to Butler would be if they had other, better, wins on the resume. Unfortunately, the season is over. Conference tournaments are ongoing and most teams are either locked into those or have downed tools and moved on. After all, when you lose in the conference tournament it’s just a waiting game.
Enter Mario Mercurio. Keeping Mario was the best thing Travis Steele did when he took over the team, and it’s possible that decision could pay off huge for Xavier now. According to a story from Adam Baum of the Enquirer, Xavier is out hunting for a Q1 or Q2 resume boosting game. Obviously, Xavier would have to win it for it to matter, but if Syracuse loses to Virginia today, the window to sneak back into the tournament opens back up. Why not try to force it?
Baum reports that Mercurio told him “We have a very tight window to explore options that could potentially have a positive impact on a postseason resume, The pool of candidates is small, but we’ll knock on every door we can. Now it comes down to who pulls the trigger.” Mercurio further said that he has been lining games up just in case this scenario arose, so he isn’t cold calling people now.
Who could Xavier play? Well it would have to be another team that was either in the area and ready to go, or one incentivized to help either Xavier or themselves.
Loyola Chicago has finished their season and are now just cooling their heels with over a week without a game. The Ramblers and Porter Moser aren’t risking much if they play another game and are 10th in the NET. They could get in a game and Xavier could get the chance of all chances for a marquee win. It’s not likely because ULC won’t want to risk injury, but why not call?
The other high ranked NET teams with time on their hands are the WCC powers. Both Gonzaga and BYU are in anyway. They are also both theoretically available for games, even if that seems highly unlikely. On the other hand, scheduling games during the Big East Tournament means likely has already gone out the window.
Louisville lost yesterday and doesn’t have a bubble situation much better than Xavier’s. The Cardinals lack high level wins and are lingering right near the cut line. This would be a huge roll of the dice for Chris Mack, but a win would get his squad in.
Drake is another team that is done playing and needs some resume help. Their two Q3 losses could be somewhat outweighed by beating a high major. As things stand now, this set of Bulldogs is relying on the largesse of the committee for their hopes of getting in. Again, this becomes do or die for both teams, but fortune favors the bold.
Over in the Atlantic 10, Saint Louis needs some help. Their resume desperately needs a big win. They aren’t getting in without it and they should know that. The Billikens are available and are incentivized. This would seem the most likely team for X to add a game with. They would also represent a Q1 opportunity.
If they aren’t crippled by contact tracing, Duke will be desperate. The Blue Devils have lost their chance at winning games in the ACC tournament because of Covid protocol. If they could isolate their case or ascertain the exposure level, they would make a highly unlikely opponent. This would, obviously, be the height of desperation.
Arizona can’t play in the postseason and is already available. They would be a Q1 game and both staffs are well acquainted with each other. Would Sean Miller do Travis Steele an enormous favor by scheduling a game? Stranger things have happened.
There is also already a team in New York that would represent a chance to right a wrong. Marquette has also been dumped out of the Big East Tournament and is still a good win on a neutral court. Lace them up at Rucker if it comes to that.
Xavier could also wait a day and try grab a game against a team that loses on Thursday. Memphis, Michigan State, Maryland, Ole Miss, the Mountain West, and Syracuse could all be in need of one more game after Thursday shakes out. The waters here are completely uncharted. Who knows what Mario may have up his sleeve to reanimate the Musketeers season.