Looking ahead to Michigan

By: David Woeltz ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of mlive.com | LeVert is on the preseason All- Big Ten team.

Xavier’s non-conference slate continues on Nov. 20 as the Musketeers travel to Michigan to take on the Wolverines and on Nov. 23 as Northern Kentucky visits Cintas Center.

The Musketeers’ matchup with Michigan is part of the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games, named in honor of Big East founder Dave Gavitt, that will showcase eight Big East versus Big Ten contests.

Michigan, who currently sits just inside the top 25, provides the Musketeers with an opportunity for a resume-building win early in the season. Michigan head coach John Beilein has the 2-0 Wolverines primed to return to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last season.

The Wolverines are led by 6-foot-7 senior guard Caris LeVert, who led the team in scoring last year. LeVert has averaged 14.5 ppg and six apg in only two games, blowout wins over Northern Michigan and Elon.

The Musketeers will also need good team defense to cover 6-foot-8 sharp shooter Duncan Robinson. Robinson was 5-5 from the three-point line against Elon, and he could cause matchup problems if he brings Xavier’s big men away from the basket.

Xavier head coach Chris Mack will be able to utilize forward Jalen Reynolds, who will have an advantage over Michigan’s relatively untested frontcourt.

The game will be on Big Ten Network at 9 p.m. Xavier will also get an opportunity to welcome Northern Kentucky to D-1 on Nov. 23. The Norse, in their final year of transition into D-1, will make the short trip over the Ohio River to Cintas Center. The game tips off at 8:30 p.m.

The Norse were picked to finish last in the Horizon League by the media, so first-year head coach John Brannen has plenty to prove. Northern Kentucky fell to West Virginia 107-61 in its season opener against a Bob Hugginscoached team that forced 30 turnovers. The Norse will rely on senior guard Tyler White for scoring. The Lima, Ohio product dropped 17 points in its season opener.