Remember all that discussion last year of “good losses” and playing the excellent teams tough? Whatever happened on Sunday was the opposite of that. While there are no good losses as such, there are definitely bad ones. Games in which you allow runs of 10-0, 28-4, 12-0, and 15-2 are definitely bad losses. Getting railed by 43 in a game you could very much have used to win is definitely a bad loss.
No one expected Xavier to win this game. In that sense, the loss wasn’t that bad. No one also expected the margin to exceed 40. Xavier has lost to UConn by a total of 48 points over two games. In one of those games they had the ball and a chance to tie in the last minute. Because of that, there was reason to believe Xavier could have been in this game. A win, however unlikely, would have given them a very good argument for an at large bid.
Instead of that Xavier managed to lose a game that shouldn’t have damaged their chances, a “free hit” Joel called it, so badly that it impacted their computer numbers significantly. X was 34th in the KenPom and dropped to 42nd. The Musketeers were as high as 35th in the NET, now they are 53rd. A loss to UConn wouldn’t have had much impact at all on those numbers, getting obliterated absolutely did.
That leaves X with work to do. In our projection of what Xavier needed to do to get in, we had this game as a loss. What we didn’t have it as was so bad a loss that it torpedoed the computer numbers. Functionally, this doesn’t change the task ahead that much. The Musketeers still need to beat St. John’s, DePaul, Nova, and Creighton at home, beat Georgetown and DePaul, and ride that out.
The problem is that now X isn’t doing that with a NET in the low 40s, they are now trying to make up ground from the low 50s. Maybe battering St. John’s fixes that. Maybe they steal one at Seton Hall, Marquette, or Butler. Maybe it takes two wins in the BET to move the needle far enough. The margin of error had already gone out of Xavier’s season. Every setback now just makes the task even harder. There can be no more slip ups.