On Saturday, Marquette picked up a big win against Xavier. It created Marquette's first three game winning streak of the season, and thus Marquette fans are feeling pretty good about their team for the first time all season.
But for the long term, it's much too early to start talking about the post season in any kind of a positive manner. After the game, head coach Buzz Williams summed it up very succinctly, as quoted by Fox Sports Wisconsin's Andrew Gruman:
Buzz: "This puts us in a position to be in a position. That's it. 'Hashtag bubble life', none of that's going on at Marquette" #mubb
— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) February 16, 2014
To put it another way, the win over Xavier was a win that Marquette had to get. But with the way this season has gone, Marquette is staring down the barrel of a lot of wins that they have to get in order to even get into a discussion about an NCAA tournament berth.
We'll use the KenPom.com rankings, as that's the one that Williams himself swears by whenever he gets a chance. MU is currently ranked 50th in the country, and as we've pointed out before, that is well outside the tournament. Marquette now has two wins against the top 50 ranked KenPom teams: the neutral court win over #41 George Washington, and Saturday's victory over the Musketeers. Nine of Marquette's 10 losses have come against top 50 KenPom teams.
2-9 ain't getting it done. Marquette has three more top 50 teams on the schedule: home dates with Creighton and St. John's, and a road trip to Villanova. 5-9 still probably isn't getting it done. The way the Big East standings shake out right now, Marquette's looking at a quarterfinal game against Providence in their first Big East Tournament game, which means the best that they can hope for is probably 7-9 against top 50 teams heading to Selection Sunday, which still probably isn't getting it done. But that would mean MU would have the Big East Tournament title in hand, and there would be no reason to worry.
The best case scenario for Marquette is that Georgetown (#52) and Providence (#57) manage to drag themselves into the top 50. That would give MU two more top 50 wins and two more chances at top 50 wins.
If you've been paying attention, I've now touched on all of Marquette's remaining games except their tangle on the road against #161 (and falling) DePaul. That means that Marquette is looking at a situation where their best case scenario to get to the NCAA tournament is to run the table. Maybe they can afford a loss in the Big East championship game if they were to go into it on an 11 game winning streak. But that is the situation that MU is in right now.
It absolutely was a big win on Saturday. But Marquette is going to need a lot more big wins to even start thinking about the NCAA tournament.