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Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Xavier Musketeers Will Make the Tournament

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Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Xavier Musketeers Will Make the Tournament

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the conferences in college basketball this season, the Big East may be the most surprising. Early in the season, the conference was expected to have just a few bids with little chance of being top seeds in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. While dark horses for the Final Four like the No. 11 Creighton Blue Jays and the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats are leading the way in the Big East, a team that is considered by many to be on the bubble, the Xavier Musketeers, may be the most dangerous and underrated team going into March Madness.

The Musketeers have been an up and down team all season long. They’ve dominated teams like the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons only to be crushed by the Tennessee Volunteers, Providence Friars and Marquette Golden Eagles. Xavier constantly goes from a perceived lock for the Big Dance to a team that doesn’t look like they would win more than one game in the NIT.

Xavier sits at third place in the Big East and, although three games behind the conference leaders Creighton and Villanova, plays both of these teams to finish out the season. The Musketeers would need a monumental collapse from the conference leaders to stand a chance of winning the Big East regular season title, but don’t sleep on Xavier in the Big East tournament either. This team could go on a hot streak and win the Big East tournament, securing an automatic bid. However, that’s very unlikely with the all-around talent in the conference.

Despite the “bubble talk” surrounding Xavier, the Musketeers and their fans shouldn’t worry. Xavier has everything that is needed to make it to the 2014 NCAA Tournament and should be a team that pulls off an upset or two in March. Here are five reasons the Musketeers will end up making the 2014 NCAA Tournament despite an up and down season.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Key Non-Conference Wins

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The Musketeers have wins over the Tennessee Volunteers at home, the Cincinnati Bearcats on a neutral floor and a win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at home. All three of these wins will look good on Xavier’s resume on Selection Sunday – especially the wins over Cincinnati and Tennessee.

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4. Lack of “Bad” Losses

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When examining Xavier’s losses, there are only two that could hinder them on Selection Sunday. They lost to the USC Trojans, but because they were on a neutral court the loss shouldn’t hurt them too much. The other loss was to the Seton Hall Pirates at home, but one rough inter-conference loss at home doesn’t look that bad when compared to the rest of their record.

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3. Remaining Schedule

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Xavier should be a lock for the tournament as long as they win four of their last six games. They cannot lose to weak teams like DePaul and Seton Hall, but they also can’t afford to lose to a fringe bubble team like St. John’s. In addition to those must-wins against weaker opposition, the Musketeers face Villanova (home), Creighton (home) and Georgetown (away). Winning one of those games would put Xavier ahead of a lot of bubble teams fighting for a tournament spot.

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2. Rest of “Bubble Teams”

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Xavier is very much a team that should make the 2014 NCAA Tournament over many other bubble teams. Their record, schedule and wins look much better than many of the teams that are on the edge of the bubble.

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1. Wins Over Top 100 RPI Teams

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Xavier has wins over six teams with a top 100 RPI. That’s an extremely impressive statistic to have on Selection Sunday when some of the teams also competing for at-large bids with better overall records do not have more than two or three top 100 RPI wins.