Back at the transition from the non-conference slate to Big East play, I broke down Xavier's remaining schedule into three sets of games. The first were the 5 Q3/4 games on the schedule; I posited that X needed to go 5-0 in those, and they're currently 1-0 thanks to waxing Seton Hall.
The next set of games included ones that I thought Xavier had a chance to make some headway in. They've only played one of them - at St. John's - and the less said about it, the better. The final set was all Q1 games. Xavier has played 3 of them so far and, despite outscoring their opponents by 14 points in them, has come away with a 1-2 record. If you want to read the whole breakdown, I'll link it below.
When I was writing that post, I said that Xavier needed to go 12-8 in conference play to make a case for at-large consideration, provided they didn't add any bad losses. I think that still holds true. With a 2-3 record in conference right now, the Muskies need to close 10-5 to reach that point.
That makes this week absolutely pivotal. Xavier has to find 10 more wins, and they have a chance to pick up two of them at home. Butler has been inconsistent but dangerous, but these are the kind of games Xavier has to win if they want to make a run. Georgetown continues to suck the paint off the walls, but Jayden Epps has the offensive skill to singlehandedly keep them in games, and they had Seton Hall on the ropes their last time out before Georgetowning it away down the stretch.
The week after, Xavier plays at Creighton and at UConn. If they win two this week and then find a way to split those, they're suddenly right back in this thing. If they don't take care of business this week, what appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel may well be revealed to be nothing but an oncoming train.
Xavier has left themselves work to do. I still believe they can do it.