February in finally almost over. The worst month of the year has almost ended and worthwhile time is nearly here. We did it, everyone.
Xavier has also done. Barring the few remaining members of the team getting hurt, Xavier will hear their name called on Selection Sunday. Right now the Musketeers are 25th in the NET, 18th in KenPom, and 17th of strength of record. That resume reflects that, even though they wobbled, X didn’t collapse down the stretch. Even losing their last two wouldn’t knock them out now.
But those last two do have some importance. As things stand now Xavier is the two seed in the Big East tournament. Win just one of their remaining games and they are guaranteed a two or three seed and thereby avoid sliding down into the 4/5 game. Beat Providence and get things to break right and they can likely hold that two seed. Win out and a share of the conference title remains a slim possibility.
As things stand currently the Musketeers are on the relatively dangerous five seed line on Bracket Matrix. Possible opponents according to the same bracketology aggregator are teams like College of Charleston and Drake. A win at Providence would be a Q1 and would add some gloss to a resume that still has four games hanging in the Q1/Q2 balance.
If X can bump themselves back up to the four line, or even go on a run at Madison Square Garden and land on the three, the type of team they play would change drastically. The goal is to get an auto qualifier from a low major conference, not a battle tested high major or a mid major looking for a huge upset. Land a 13 or 14 seed and you’re looking at the Utah Valley and Eastern Washington caliber of team. Any team in the tournament can win a game, but it doesn’t hurt to stack the odds. A slide to the six line is a troubling thought.
It’s nice to take 400 words and look at things like this. Xavier isn’t looking over their shoulder at the bubble, isn’t collapsing in a barrage of missed threes and overtime losses, and hasn’t seen the fanbase invert on itself. March is coming. Xavier is right on the cusp of going dancing. 13 days from now will be a celebration. Do the work before then and the Musketeers could be on the verge of one of their highest seeds ever.