BY JOE CLARK, SPORTS EDITOR
From Wednesday to Friday, Xavier men’s basketball will host the Xavier Invitational, a multi-team event (MTE) featuring Xavier, Bradley, Toledo and Oakland.
The event will be held at Cintas and will be the second ever in-season tournament hosted by the Musketeers, following the 2003 BCA Invitational.
Xavier was originally scheduled to participate in the Orlando Invitational along with Auburn, Belmont, Boise State, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Saint Louis and Siena, but Xavier pulled out early due to travel concerns due to COVID-19. All in-season tournaments that were supposed to be held in Orlando were eventually cancelled.
Xavier is bringing in four opponents for the Xavier Invitational that don’t play that far away in order to minimize risk with travel due to COVID-19. However, all four teams are solid mid-major opponents that should give the Musketeers a good early-season test.
Oakland is Xavier’s first opponent of the season, and the Golden Grizzlies aren’t projected to do too well this year, as they’re currently
ranked 281 by KenPom. However, they do feature talented guard Rashad Williams, who averaged 19.5 points per game for Oakland last season after transferring from Cleveland State.
If Xavier is able to slow down Williams, they should be able to win this game by a sizable margin.
After Oakland, Xavi- er plays Bradley at noon on Thanksgiving day. Bradley is currently ranked 126 by KenPom, and they could be the toughest opponent Xavier faces in this MTE. 6-foot-7 senior Elijah Childs and junior forward Ja’Shon Henry are a formidable duo for the Braves, who could compete for a conference title in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Bradley is not a team to be taken lightly, but it is a game Xavier should come out on top of.
Finally, Xavier wraps up the MTE with a game against Toledo. Toledo is a similarly strong team, as they bring back a lot of key players from a 17-15 team last season.
They’re currently ranked 128 by KenPom, and have two seniors in Marreon Jackson and Spencer Littleson who pose a serious threat on the offensive side of the ball.
Jackson averaged 19.8 points per game last year, to go along with 4.3 rebounds per game and 5.4 assists per game. He’s likely to be the best player Xavier faces all tournament, and stopping him will be a priority.
Toledo will likely be a top three team in the Mid-American conference this year. Toledo and Bradley’s matchup on Wednesday will be one to watch.
Xavier should win all three of these games, but early-season games are always closer than expected, especially when you’re incorporating a new offense and at least five newcomers, including three freshman. Don’t be surprised if Xavier doesn’t win in a blowout in every game.
Still, it would be surprising if Xavier didn’t come out of the invitational at 3-0.