Xavier is 1-0 in Big East play with a win over Georgetown. There is a time when that would have been an exciting sentence to type. Now it just means that the Musketeers have added another Q4 win. The Hoyas are 247th in the NET, sliding nicely in between SE Louisiana and Fairfield. The Big East has gone from being loaded with good wins, to a minefield of bad losses. Does the conference even measure up nationally anymore?
X plays Seton Hall at home tonight. According to the NET, the Hall is 94th. That plants them squarely in the third quadrant on the road. Seton Hall is 64th in the KenPom, which is better, but still is some way off tournament level. Providence is 69th in the KenPom and 86th in the NET, DePaul is still DePaul, and Villanova is sub 100 in the NET. Even preseason darlings Creighton are sliding toward 50th.
Quite simply, the Big East isn’t very good this year, at least in Big East terms. Currently the conference sits fourth in KenPom’s efficiency rankings. That’s undeniably far better than still being in the Atlantic 10. Fourth is where the BE finished last season, but this year’s efficiency is actually marginally better thanks to teams like Xavier and Marquette doing very well.
The problem is this:
There are seven potential Q1 games out there for Xavier. The Musketeers will, currently, end the season with just 11 Q1 games. Last season they had 15 and went 6-9 in those games. Best case scenario, X could finish 8-3. That would be excellent, it also isn’t terribly likely.
Aside from there not being the top tier games available this season, there are massive traps. Last season the Musketeers played just four Q3 or Q4 games in conference. This year there are seven, and three of them are Q4 games. The margin of error shrinks when a hotly contested conference game could turn into a resume killing loss.
Contrast this to the Big Ten. Minnesota is a Q4 no matter what. Nebraska and Michigan (!) are Q3s at home. That’s it and that’s all. In the Big 12 there are no games in the bottom two quads. None at all. The SEC has some bad games in it, but has five teams in it that are Q1 both home and away.
Simply put, the Big East isn’t going to be the boon it usually is to Xavier’s resume. The Musketeers will be tempting fate if they play .500 ball in conference or if they waste a good record with a bad loss. The traps are out there, the Musketeers would do well to avoid them. The big games this season have just become that much bigger.