It is somehow that time already. The first set of NET rankings is out for college basketball. No undefeated teams will be left out, no teams from a conference that drives TV ratings will get in. Ohio State won’t somehow be in the discussion despite not actually being very good. No, this is just the cold, hard, proprietary math of the NCAA (that they refuse to release). Better than nothing.
The first thing you might notice when checking the NET this season is that you have to scroll to find Xavier. And scroll. And scroll. X is currently 68th. In case you’ve forgotten since last year, the goal is to be above 38th in the NET come Selection Sunday. That doesn’t guarantee you will be in, but it puts you in good shape. That means Xavier has 30 spots to make up in three months.
The last time Xavier was this low on the NET was Jan 15th of 2020 following a loss to Wake Forest. While this Xavier team is fresh off a loss to Houston, it’s clear the numbers haven’t forgotten the bed crapping against an aggressively mediocre Oakland team that turned around and lost to IPFW by 19. Oakland is 105th right now. They need to climb to 75th for that game to become a Q2. That’s not going to happen.
So things are grim right now. Xavier isn’t in a good spot and has generally wasted the non-conference. NET, and the committee, won’t care that they played Purdue and Houston close. Come Selection Sunday that won’t be a factor at all. Sorry, #goodloss people.
But there’s always good news in the Big East. There are at least 10 Q1 games coming up in conference play. There’s one more Q1 remaining in non-con, a little game you may have heard of called the Crosstown Shootout. Last year X was 9-7 in Q1 games and landed a 3 seed. Get up to 6-6 (X is 0-2 right now) and a tournament bid is a real possibility so long as nothing else dumb happens. Xavier dropped a Q3 last year as well and was just fine.
So the goals are simple: win five or six Q1 games, don’t lose to Georgetown or DePaul, get to 17 wins before the conference tournament, beat UC and roundly mock them for it. Accomplish those things and it will be another March to remember.