By: Andrew Utz ~Staff Writer~
Xavier men’s basketball begins conference play on Dec. 31 against Georgetown, but before then, there is a tournament and multiple non-conference games in which the Musketeers will compete. The Muskies play at home for the first five games of the season. The 2014-15 season kicks off with an exhibition game against Northwood a Division II team from Michigan.
Over the 10 days, the team will be playing four teams at home. The regular season begins against Northern Arizona on Nov. 14. Four days later, Long Beach State comes to Cintas. The Musketeers host Stephen F. Austin State University, which made it to the third round in the NCAA tournament last year, on Nov. 21. Just three days later, on Nov. 24, Murray State visits Cintas Center.
The Musketeers wrap up November with the Wooden Legacy Tournament, which hosts eight teams in California. The first two days of the tournament will be played in the California State-Fullerton’s Titan Gym and the final two are played in the Honda Center in Anaheim. Xavier competes in the second game of the tournament against San Diego on Nov. 27. Other teams competing in the tournament including Princeton, Long Beach State, San Jose State, University of Washington, University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and Western Michigan.
After the tournament break, Xavier returns to Cintas Center to host Alabama on Dec. 6. The Crimson Tide finished 11th in the SEC last season with a 7-11 record. Junior Trevor Releford led the team last year in points per game, averaging 18.5. However, Releford was drafted as a free agent by the Atlanta Hawks. The roster for Alabama is loaded with experienced juniors and seniors, with only four freshmen on the roster.
Following Alabama, Xavier will host IUPUI on Dec. 9. The Musketeers then hit the road for two games, starting in Missouri on Dec. 13. The Tigers were sixth in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) last season and are now putting a fairly young team on the court this season, with six freshmen and three sophomores making up most of the 13-man team. Following their trip to Missouri, Xavier goes to Auburn University on Dec. 20. Auburn finished 12th behind Alabama in the SEC standings last year.
The Tigers have a large junior class to support under-classmen
throughout the season. In its final game before conference play begins, Xavier returns to campus to play Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 28.
The Eagles finished second in the Atlantic Sun Conference last season. Midway through the conference season, Xavier goes to Cincinnati for the Crosstown Shootout. This game marks the return of the annual game to the universities after playing at the U.S. Bank Arena for two years. The Bearcats finished second last year in the American Conference, behind Louisville and ahead of the University of Connecticut.
The Bearcats field a balanced team from all classes and are looking for one of them to replace
Sean Kilpatrick, who was signed by and then waived the Golden State Warriors this summer after graduating.