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Must win games

Xavier has a couple of very winnable games ahead. It would behoove them to take care of business.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Creighton Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

After a 2-2 stretch that it's fair to say didn't meet with universal applause from the fanbase, Xavier is sitting at 15-5 on the year. Thanks to the fact that they've played their entire season series against three of the top four in the league before the midway point of the conference schedule - seriously, how does that make sense? - they have no losses outside of Q1 and sit at 20th in the NET and 19th in WAB. In other words, X is very well-positioned for Selection Sunday.

This week holds two of the most vital games in Xavier's schedule: home to Butler and home to DePaul. Because both of those teams are miserable this year, they're Q3 games. This gives Xavier very little to gain from the games but plenty to lose. Dropping either would permanently remove the "no bad losses" label from the Muskies' resume.

Both teams have shown some signs of life lately. Butler had the ball down 4 with 2 to play against Providence and somehow ran Creighton off the floor at Hinkle. DePaul held a second half lead against UConn before a run of 4 points in 13 possessions doomed them. They were up 10 in the second half against UConn before scoring 11 points in the final 18 minutes to fall all the way out of the game. If Xavier comes out for the opening tip asleep (again), they'll need another 29-2 run to handle business.

Fortunately, Xavier has put themselves in a position where handling business is all they need to do down the stretch. There are 4 Q3-4 games left on the schedule (Butler, DePaul, St. John's, Georgetown); if Xavier wins those and just 1 of the other 6 left, Bart Torvik's Teamcast tool has them in as an 8 seed even if they crap out in the first round of the Big East tournament. At 20-11 with no bad losses and 9 Q1-2 wins, their resume is just too solid to be in any real danger.

It's doubtful any fan would be too pleased with that. Closing 5-6 and sneaking in seems like a puttering out when compared to what we saw against Creighton in the second half. Xavier is currently undefeated in the bottom 3 quads and .500ish in Q1. If the Muskies keep that up, they'll hit the Big East tournament at 23-7 with 13 Q1-2 wins.

That would involve handling business in the above-mentioned games, winning home to Seton Hall and at St. John's, and taking 2 of at Seton Hall, home to UConn, at UConn, and at Providence. Is that doable? Is it a realistic hope? I don't know; after watching them make Creighton evaporate on their own home court, it's hard to say what this team's potential is if they can stay in high gear.

It all starts with winning winnable games though. Nobody's ticket is punched just yet. With hard work ahead, Xavier has to stay focused and come away from this week with two wins.