By Grady Boris, Staff Writer
Xavier’s non-conference lineup is chock-full of tough and exciting matchups to look forward to. The Musketeers have 11 non-conference games slated for the 2021-22 season, 8 of which will be hosted at home in the Cintas Center.
The first non-conference will be Nov. 9 at home against Niagara, which will also serve as the home-opener for the Musketeers.
A few days later on Nov. 12, Kent State will be in Cincinnati to square off against Xavier.
Last season, Kent State was able to post an impressive record of 15-8, ending their season on a disappointing loss to Ohio University in the Mid-American Conference Tournament 85-63. Despite the lackluster end to the season, they still are not a team to overlook.
Nov. 18 is the game that’ll prove to be the biggest test in the early season for the Musketeers against Ohio State for the Gavitt Games matchups. The Buckeyes are coming off a heartbreaking loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to the 15th seed Oral Roberts.
The Buckeyes are 8-8-4 against Xavier, with both schools looking to make up for a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. Ohio State will feature one one of the best players in the country in E.J. Liddell, who will be a player Xavier has to focus on if they want to win.
Norfolk State is up next on Nov. 21, and the Spartans are coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The week of Thanksgiving, the Musketeers will participate in the NIT Tip-Off tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Other than Xavier, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, and Memphis will partake in the tournament. Xavier will play Iowa State that Wednesday, and if they win they’ll play the winner of the Virginia Tech-Memphis game. A loss will pit the Musketeers up against the loser of that matchup.
Both Virginia Tech and Memphis are talented teams, but Memphis has more buzz due to the additions of five-star freshmen Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates, as well as transfer Earl Timberlake.
Following Thanksgiving weekend, the Musketeers host Central Michigan on Dec. 1. Xavier hasn’t played the Chippewas since 1997.
On Dec. 5, they’ll face off against Oklahoma State in the Big East v. Big 12 Battle, offering another challenge for Xavier in the form of a team that was not only a participant in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but also returns talented junior guard Avery Anderson and senior Isaac Likekele.
After the Big East-Big 12 Battle, Xavier plays Ball State on Dec. 8, in the precursor to the Crosstown Shootout on Dec.11.
Xavier is coming off back-to-back shootout wins, but the Bearcats will be motivated under new Head Coach Wes Miller, who left UNC- Greensboro to take over in Clifton.
The final non-conference game will be a home game against Morehead State on Dec. 15 before the Musketeers begin Big East play against Marquette the following Saturday.