A lot of the narrative surrounding this team right now is that this team has either made progress since last season or will make significant progress as the season goes on. A tweeter mentioned that this team, from a program that has missed four straight NCAA tournaments, would be an eight or nine seed. This was shouted down as being too pessimistic. Right here JBel (and we love you) said “Miller is having a big impact and it is only going to get better.”
Is that true? For starters Xavier is 35th in the KenPom and 26th in the Torvik. Last season after four games they were 33rd and 29th. So, no significant difference there. Last season Xavier was 4-0, this season they are 3-1. Different, but not huge this early in the season. Last season X had two Q4 wins, a Q3 win, and a Q1 win after four games. This season they have four Q4 wins and a Q2 loss. That’s significantly worse and is really the only measurable difference.
There is a positive feeling around the program right now. Sean Miller is back. He’s likely the best coach in program history. There’s no reasonable argument that Travis Steele, love him or hate him, was a better coach than Sean Miller. That’s not a knock on Steele, it’s just reality. Xavier is in the best coaching position they have been in five years.
But, ultimately, it’s the results that matter. Thus far this season, the results are not as good as they were last year. OSU was a Q1 team when they came to Cintas and Xavier beat them. Indiana may be when the NET comes out, but they are a Q2 in the RPI. No matter how you slice it, a close loss is not as good as a Q1 win. Xavier’s resume on this date in 2022 is not as good as it was on this date in 2021. The selection committee does not take almost wins over very good teams into account. You either win or you lose. Xavier, unfortunately, lost.
That doesn’t mean this team won’t end the season better than last. It doesn’t mean they won’t improve. It doesn’t mean this isn’t an NCAA tournament team. What it does mean is that nothing is fait accompli. Last season the team looked like world beaters until late January. This season they haven’t looked very good yet. There are variables, namely the guys actually playing the games, that impact things. A coaching change, even a great one, doesn’t guarantee success. There are no moral victories. Xavier will be judged on what they win and lose.