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Xavier is still in, but barely

The Musketeers’ position is not secure at all at this point.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

So here’s some good news: the Bracket Matrix still has Xavier in the tournament. It’s by the skin of their teeth - Xavier holds the next to last at-large bid at this point, according to the wisdom of the masses - but in is better than out.

That’s pretty much where the good news ends. With an entire work week between us and Selection Sunday, the Muskies will not stay there. There’s just too much that can happen to change the team’s position on the bubble to feel at all good about being “in” with six days until the Selection Show.

The first of those is that teams below Xavier could play their way back in. Syracuse and Seton Hall are the two most obvious candidates, as they play in conferences that will give them opportunities to rack up good wins in a hurry, but Mississippi might do something unlikely, or the committee might be super impressed by Utah State, or Saint Mary’s might beat Gonzaga tonight.

Speaking of that, there’s also the risk of bid pirates. This happens in mid- to low-major leagues a lot, where one team is good enough to get an at-large bid and is also favored to take the auto bid. The AAC and MVC are good examples of this, with Houston and Loyola Chicago clearly in no matter what and Wichita State and Drake hanging out near the cut line. If someone other than the favorite takes the auto bid - especially if it’s a complete dark horse - a one-bid league becomes a two-bid league, and the number of available bubble spots shrinks by one.

Finally, X can simply play themselves out of the conversation. A loss to Butler would certainly take care of that. Even going 1-1 at MSG would likely leave Xavier out in the cold. Xavier likely needs at least two wins in the conference tournament to have a chance of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday, and even that would leave them on pretty shaky ground.

The Muskies need to execute this week, and they also likely need to get some help (unless they just go ahead and take the auto bid). A lot of teams would love to have the chance that Xavier has in MSG, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good position.