Previewing men’s 2020 schedule

BY Grace carlo, staff writer
Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer

At the beginning of the academic semester there was little hope that Xavier would have a basketball season this year. Despite the season getting pushed back, there will be a college basketball season.

Xavier is coming off of a 19-13 season, with an 8-10 record in the Big East. With the NCAA season getting cut short last year due to COVID-19, the team is getting ready to be able to compete again.

Led by senior Paul Scruggs and sophomore Zach Freemantle, the Musketeers will likely play a more up-tempo style of basketball this year.

Originally, Xavier was scheduled to play in the Orlando Invitational, but the Musketeers pulled out due to travel concerns with COVID-19.

Instead, Xavier will host a multi-team event (MTE), the Xavier Invitational, at Cintas Center from Wednesday to Friday.

Xavier will host Oakland, Bradley and Toledo in consecutive days.

Bradley will likely be the toughest team Xavier plays in the MTE, but the Musketeers will be heavy favorites in all three games.

On Monday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m., Xavier will face off against Eastern Kentucky. Xavier last played the Colonels on Dec. 15, 2018 and took home a 95-77 win.

The Musketeers will follow that up with a game on Dec. 2 against Tennessee Tech, another game Xavier should win handily.

Xavier’s first big test of the season will take place on Dec. 6 when they take on Cincinnati in the Crosstown Shootout.

The 2020 shootout looked to be in danger earlier this year, with Xavier and Cincinnati unable to agree to terms, but the two teams decided the game would be played as scheduled at Fifth Third Bank Arena. After winning 73-66 last year, Xavier will look to take home their second straight win in the shootout.

Following the Crosstown Shootout, Xavier will take part in the Big East-Big 12 Challenge when they host Oklahoma on Dec. 9.

After the Oklahoma game, the Musketeers begin Big East play on Dec. 12 when they travel to Providence to take on the Friars.

Providence brings back star guard David Duke and reliable big Nate Watson. Xavier lost to Providence on the road last season.

The Muskies are then back at home on Dec. 15 to play Seton Hall, who added Harvard grad transfer Bryce Aiken to their roster this year.

On Dec. 18, Xavier travels north to Chicago to play DePaul at 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Following that, they host Marquette on Dec. 20 at Cintas.

Finally, the last scheduled game of 2020 is on the road in Omaha as Xavier plays Creighton. Creighton will likely compete with Villanova as the top team in the Big East this season, so that game will definitely be a road test for the Musketeers.

While Xavier lost Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones to graduation, they brought in a good freshman class and a solid group of transfers and should make the NCAA Tournament this season.