By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
Despite coming off a Sweet 16 appearance last spring, Xavier men’s basketball will certainly have its hands full with non-conference opponents this upcoming season in a few marquee matchups. The Musketeers open their season unofficially in an exhibition against the Northwood Timberwolves on Nov. 11. The season officially begins on Nov. 13 against Miami University of Ohio.
The first true test for the Musketeers comes earlier than years past against the University of Missouri. As a product of the Southeastern Conference, Missouri is a threat to win any game. Playing in front of a home crowd, Xavier will hope to gain momentum before the heavyweight matchup that will ensue just three days later.
Against what can be considered the most highly touted nonconference opponent (not named UC) in recent years, Xavier will make the trek up I-75 to play the University of Michigan as part of this year’s new Big East vs. Big Ten matchup. Michigan will be hungry this year after not making the NCAA tournament this past March.
Northern Kentucky will then make its annual visit to the Cintas Center on Nov. 23 in what should be a stress-relief game for Xavier after the last grueling week. As is tradition for the team in late November, Xavier will travel for a Thanksgiving weekend tournament.
This year’s Advocare Invitational, in Orlando, Fla., will feature Xavier in the first round against the University of Alabama. Depending on their success, the next opponents will be determined by that game’s outcome.
The Musketeers start December with two easier games against Western Kentucky on Dec. 5 and Wright State University on the Dec. 8. In the midst of finals, the highlight of every season for Xavier basketball returns to Cintas Center for the first time in four years as archrival University of Cincinnati comes to play as part of the Crosstown Shootout on Dec. 12.
Auburn University arrives a week later. The Tigers bring in a top-20 recruiting class and figure to improve in their second season under Bruce Pearl. Men’s basketball rounds out its non-conference schedule on Dec. 22 as part of the Skip Prosser Classic when it travels down to Winston-Salem, N.C., to face off against Wake Forest University.