Photo courtesy of thegamehaus.com | Senior guard Trevon Blueitt will be an X factor for the Musketeers. He is in the discussion to be a National Player of the Year candidate.
There is a certain excitement coursing through the campus of Xavier University at the moment. That’s because, at least on paper, this year’s Xavier team is expected to be one of the best in program history.
Yes, many made the same statement about last year’s team, but due to injuries the regular season did not quite turn out as many had hoped.
Then in March, a brutal winter was wiped from the memories of Musketeer fans as the team reached its third Elite Eight, the first in almost 10 years.
In May, Trevon Bluiett announced he would be returning for his senior campaign, or “Round 4,” as he tweeted, and that really set the table for what could be a special season.
Per usual, the Musketeers did not give themselves many breaks in this year’s schedule.
After a couple of contests to ease into the season, the Musketeers will travel to Madison, Wisc., as part of the Gavitt Games for a matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers. Needless to say, Xavier will be looking to exact revenge for the buzzer-beating loss the Wisconsin Badgers dealt the Musketeers in the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago.
The rest of the non-conference schedule stays difficult. The team will travel to Las Vegas over Thanksgiving for two games in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational before returning to Cintas to buckle down for a long stretch of play.
First it’s Baylor, who manhandled Xavier down in Texas a season ago to give the Musketeers their first loss of the season.
Then, only a few days later, it’s the Crosstown Shootout against Cincinnati. Make no mistake, this year’s Bearcats team is very, very good. In fact, there is a real possibility that both teams could be ranked in the Top 15 when the game is played. Xavier will have the home court advantage, but it’s slated to be quite the battle in early December.
Colorado, who also beat the Musketeers last year, will travel to Cintas with another solid squad, and Xavier will take on Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls as well before Big East play begins. Simply put, there are ample opportunities to secure massive wins prior to conference play.
The Musketeers did lose Malcolm Bernard and RaShid Gaston, but their losses should be more than made up for in the form of this year’s highly touted freshman class.
Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall and Elias Harden join an uber-talented squad that will look to hit the ground running and make their presence known nationally early in the season.
With a wealth of experience and some new faces, the Musketeers are primed to do something great this season: make the Final Four.
By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~