NCAA Basketball Xavier Musketeers

5 Things Xavier Basketball Must Do To Make The 2014 NCAA Tournament

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5 Things Xavier Basketball Must Do To Make The 2014 NCAA Tournament

Xavier Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament
Evan Habeeb - USATODAY Sports

After missing out on the NCAA Tournament last year, the Xavier Musketeers are working hard to make it back to The Big Dance this season. After all, Xavier has enjoyed a lot of tournament success under head coach Chris Mack as the Musketeers advanced to the Sweet 16 in both 2010 and 2012. Xavier may be capable of making another run to the second weekend of the tournament this season, but first they’ll have to get to the tournament -- and as of right now they are not yet guaranteed a spot.

At the moment, the Musketeers are in good shape; they are tied for third in the new Big East which projects to put at least a handful of teams into the NCAA Tournament, and Xavier stands a good chance to reach the 20-win mark before the end of the regular season. Current projections have the Musketeers in the tournament as a 10 or 11 seed. However, any team that’s projected to have a double-digit seed shouldn’t feel secure with its spot in the field until they actually see their name on Selection Sunday.

Despite a solid resume that includes a win over intra-city rival and top-10 team Cincinnati, Xavier remains very much on the bubble with the month of March fast approaching. With an RPI outside the top 50 and a few bad losses on their resume, including Saturday’s blowout loss to Georgetown, the Musketeers still have work to do. If Xavier wants to make it to the NCAA Tournament, here are five things they must do.

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5. Move Into The Top 50 Of The RPI

Move Into The Top 50 Of The RPI
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The Musketeers aren’t far outside the top 50 of the RPI, but they’re also closer to 60 than 50 which is not a great place to be for bubble teams. If Xavier wants to secure a spot in the field of 68 and feel confident on Selection Sunday, the Musketeers need to move into the top 50 of the RPI.

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4. Win The Big East Tournament

Win The Big East Tournament
Kevin Jairaj - USATODAY Sports

This will be tough to pull off as the Musketeers may have to beat both Creighton and Villanova to do it. But winning the Big East Tournament will not only give Xavier an automatic berth in the tournament, but it will also boost their seed considerably and put them in a position to do some damage.

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3. Beat Either Creighton Or Villanova Late In The Season

Beat Either Creighton Or Villanova Late In The Season
Howard Smith - USATODAY Sports

The Musketeers have one signature win this season, beating Cincinnati back in December, but they need a second one in order to solidify a spot in the tournament. Xavier will play both Creighton and Villanova at home during the first week of March, and winning either of those games will give them a second marquee win to put on the resume. They may also get a shot to play those teams during the conference tournament, so the Musketeers will have ample opportunity to get the resume-building wins they need down the stretch.

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2. Win At Least One Game In The Big East Tournament

Win At Least One Game In The Big East Tournament
Kelly Lambert - USATODAY Sports

Nothing makes the selection committee forget about you faster than going one and done in a conference tournament. Whether they end up with a first round bye or not, Xavier has to win at least one game during the Big East Tournament -- otherwise they’ll likely add a bad loss to their resume and leave the committee with a bad final impression of them.

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1. Don't Lose To Seton Hall

Don't Lose To Seton Hall
The Star-Ledger - USATODAY Sports

The Musketeers lost to Seton Hall earlier this season, and they can’t afford to lose to the Pirates again on Mar. 3. Outside of that first loss to the Pirates, Xavier doesn’t have too many red flag losses on its resume, and they can’t start putting them on now. If Xavier wins just one game during the rest of the regular season, it needs to be its game against Seton Hall; it’s a can’t-lose game.