Well then. It took approximately zero minutes after the conclusion of last night’s game for the Twitter hysteria to begin. If it wasn’t people tweeting praying hands and worrying about another February collapse, it was people claiming that optimistic tweets saying everything was ok were likely the reason another collapse was imminent. You could also find hate for the refs, the players, or really anyone but the coaching staff. It wasn’t last February yet, but the sky was lowering ominously.
Up here today the sky has lowered ominously (I’m hoping it’s not the mushroom cloud from East Palestine) and rain has moved in. That shouldn’t dampen anyone’s spirits about the Xavier Musketeers. The team is still well on course for the NCAA tournament. Two conference losses doesn’t change that. In fact, it barely impacts it at all.
Here’s a quick rundown of KenPom top 25 teams with two consecutive losses this season:
- UCLA (twice)
- Saint Mary’s
- Iowa St (twice)
- Indiana (twice)
- West Va. (twice)
- Arkansas (twice)
- Maryland (twice)
- TCU (twice)
There are three, four, and five game losing streaks in there. Losses to teams as bad as Vanderbilt, LSU, and Loyola Marymount aren’t hard to find in the top 25. Creighton, Iowa St, and TCU have lost nine times, several top 25 teams have eight losses, and West Virginia has dropped 11.
All that to say that two game loser with one of those games being against Marquette is hardly reason for worry. Xavier is nationally ranked, 21st in the KenPom, 25th in the NET, and has an SOR of 13th in the nation. Both ESPN and Bart Torvik give the Musketeers an 100% chance of making the tournament. Xavier has five Q1 wins with Florida literally one NET spot away from becoming a sixth and UC on the verge of making it seven. The only serious blemish is a horrid loss to DePaul, but even that is more annoying than troubling.
The schedule the rest of the way also sets up nicely for the Musketeers. Yes, the five rotation guys missed a Q1 chance at Marquette, but there are two left at Seton Hall and Providence. Hopefully Des Claude is not still ill at that point. Zach Freemantle took warmups with the team yesterday and could be ready for a season ending Q3 home game against Butler. Before any of those come a Q4 against DePaul and a Q3 against Nova, both at home.
That leaves X with five to play. Say the sky really does fall and they lose out. Even in that ludicrous scenario, the Musketeers would still be projected to be one of the last four in the tournament. A much more realistic 3-2 lands them as a lock and a five seed. In fact, even only beating DePaul still gives Xavier a 91.9% chance of making the tournament.
Pointing out early this season that Xavier had some serious defensive issues was met with derision and very emphatic reminders that Sean Miller was the coach now. Suddenly two losses in February has shaken that semi-arrogant faith of parts of Xavier Nation. Nothing has changed, though. Coach Miller is still the coach, he’s still one of the best coaches in the nation, and he showed that again last night. The team, not some weird hex or worry about February past, determines the results. This team is good. The results will follow.