NEW YORK -- One of the toughest wins earned Thursday came at Madison Square Garden, as a desperate Xavier team, dancing on the NCAA Tournament bubble, leaped off it thanks to a 62-57 win over Butler.

Now, there is no doubt. Xavier will have its name called on Selection Sunday no matter what happens in the Musketeers’ Big East tournament semifinal Friday night. This team is not only in the NCAA field, but I think it’s cleared the First Four hurdle. Beating Butler on a neutral floor means that much.

The Musketeers improved to 21-12, and in doing so got their first win over a team not named DePaul since Feb. 4. Since Butler will be a 5-seed at worst, the value of this neutral-court win, combined with six other road/neutral wins (at Creighton included), it’s going to be enough. 

Chris Mack’s team is 2-0 in Manhattan, having pushed past DePaul on Wednesday night. Gotta give credit to X in the way that it won, too: beating Butler in Butler’s style. The Bulldogs have a magic trick-like ability to make eight-point deficits turn into two-point leads and leave you wondering how they just did what they did. 

On Thursday, Xavier pulled it off, overcoming a seven-point deficit to overtake BU late. A couple of missed jumpers on Butler’s end ruined Chris Holtmann’s team’s chances at taking the game and keeping faint hopes of a 3-seed alive (would’ve needed to win the Big East tournament to get there). Xavier got 23 points from its most valuable player, Trevon Bluiett, who came up big late. 

A little look inside the locker room: There wasn’t relief from Xavier’s players or coaches. They expected to win, and they expect to win again Friday. There’s more security with this victory now, but let’s remember that Xavier is a program that often thrives in March. This is the fourth consecutive year the program’s made the Big East semifinals. 

“I don’t look at it as relief,” Mack said after the game. “We have competitive guys. And they understand what’s at stake. I don’t know how you can’t, 2017, everywhere we go guys have their phones up to their noses. So I’m sure they’re Snapchatting, but at the same time they’re probably checking Twitter and seeing the bottom line on ESPN and Fox Sports 1, Stewart Mandel. We’re aware of all that stuff.”

They’ll also be aware of everyone rightfully tossing Xavier into the bracket for good. Bluiett was largely responsible for that. He’s going to need to be all-league quality to give Xavier a chance at a Sweet 16 run. 

“And Trevon has done it all year,” Mack said. “That’s why we put the ball in his hands.” 

He’ll get it time and again on Friday night, but looking forward, Xavier’s now presented with a big opportunity. Mack wants to focus on the Big East tournament, beating these teams, improving their standing in the pecking order. Getting a third league win would be nearly as valuable as the Butler won is. 

Butler beating Xavier would’ve provided the possibility of the best matchup -- Butler perhaps facing Villanova in the title game, with Butler 2-0 against VU this season -- but this outcome was better for the league. The Big East will be sending at least six teams to the NCAAs, and seven is still on the table.