Well, here we are again. As recently as the 19th of January, Xavier was sitting in a great position. At that point in time they were 14-3 (4-2) and had been banking good wins all non-con and to start conference. Since then the Musketeers have gone 3-6 and dropped well down both the human polls and the computer metrics. Only the fact that two of those three wins have been Q1 games has the potential to be a saving grace.
The good news is that Xavier has five Q1 wins and a sixth that changes with how Marquette happens to be playing at the time. (Get it together, Golden Eagles.) Only 13 teams have more than five Q1 wins, only 11 have more than six. That’s a great number. Xavier has a lot of high quality wins. Xavier’s wins by NET average come in at 114. While that sounds low, it’s actually also very high in the nation. Only three teams in the top 236 (as far as the nitty gritty report goes) average a win in the double figures: Kansas, Wisconsin, and Alabama. So all of Xavier’s wins also stand them in good stead.
Xavier also lacks many bad losses. The Musketeer’s average NET loss is 37, respectable in its own right and far better than teams like Duke that have a higher NET than X, and also far better than teams like Arkansas, USC, Murray St, and Providence who are all hovering around Xavier in the NET rankings. One Q3 loss is comparable with Duke and LSU and better than Arkansas, Alabama, and Virginia Tech. So far, so good.
But that is a Q3 loss. Xavier is 25th in the NET and only six teams above the Musketeers have any Q3 losses. Only roughly half of the NET top 50 have any Q3 losses and you have to scroll down to 48th and Washington State to find a team with three. There is a reason that you aren’t seeing WSU in any projected brackets. That confoundingly stupid loss to DePaul is a serious blemish on Xavier’s resume. Remove it and there is absolutely no cause for bubble concern. Xavier would be in without argument from anyone.
There is also the matter of Xavier’s remaining schedule. There is a Q1 game at Providence, a Q2 at home against Seton Hall, a Q1 on the road at St. John’s, and a Q4 Georgetown game that absolutely no good can come from. That means that there are chances to win games that can easily put Xavier over the top, but also three very tough games. X can’t afford to drop five straight before going to Georgetown.
If the tournament started today, Xavier would be in, and easily. They currently hold a seven seed on the Bracket Matrix, are listed as Should Be In by ESPN, are nowhere near the bubble per Jerry Palm, and hold a 92.5% chance of making the tournament on Bart Torvik’s teamcast system. The season doesn’t end today, though. Xavier has three tough games and then an absolute landmine to end the season. Beat Georgetown and win one of the others and a tournament bid (if not good feelings) is a sure thing. Only beat Georgetown and the Musketeers are entering the Big East tournament on the upper edge of the bubble. It’s going to be a fraught three weeks.