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Can this season be salvaged?

Xavier should have been a lock for the NCAA tournament, now they have eight days to save their season.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at St. John
Jack Nunge watches the ball, and Xavier’s season, bounce away.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

On the basis of what we have seen over the last two weeks, Xavier’s season is functionally over. There is no particular reason to think the Musketeers will beat Georgetown beyond just the Hoyas incredible incompetence. Xavier is 2-7 since February started and 108th in adjusted efficiency. Sure, Georgetown is worse, but would anything surprise you at this point? Based on the last month, Xavier is dead in the water.

Because of the great work this team did earlier in the season, and there was a lot, the Musketeers still are not eliminated from at large consideration for the NCAA tournament. This is a team that beat Ohio State, beat Oklahoma State on the road, beat Virginia Tech, and cruised past UConn at home. There is a lot of meat on Xavier’s resume. If you want to watch this team keep playing, there is plenty of reason to think they can.

Still, the 2-7 stretch since February has done some real damage. Teams with similar profiles are about a coin flip chance to make the tournament. (One of those teams is Xavier 2012 Sweet 16 team.) Teams with similar resumes are in a worse position. The Musketeers plummeting WAB hurts their resume significantly.

So what does Xavier need to do? Not just win against Georgetown. Winning that game and losing to Butler drops Xavier to Bart Torvik’s first team out. That is right, obviously, on the cut line. Win that Butler game and X jumps right past the play in games and up to a 60% chance of making the tournament. Beat Providence next and X is in, lose that one and it’s a very, very sweaty Selection Sunday. That would, according to Torvik, put Xavier in the last slot in the tournament.

In short that means that Xavier, a team that has lost five in a row, a team that played an immense game against Providence before getting robbed and has looked like garbage since, a team that cannot get a stop or a score when it matters, needs to win three straight to be comfortable. If you think that is possible, Xavier should still be in comfortably. If you think Xavier can win two straight, get ready for a fraught March 13th. Just beating Georgetown accomplishes nothing. Somehow, a season that started as one of Xavier’s best has collapsed into straw clutching.