By Joe Clark, Sports Editor
On Nov. 24 and Nov. 26, Xavier men’s basketball will participate in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) Season Tip-Off Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Xavier’s first game on Nov. 24 will be against Iowa State, who will be playing under first-year Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger. Iowa State has already experienced difficulties early in the season with sophomore center Xavier Foster being dismissed from the program.
If they want to have a successful season, the Cyclones will rely heavily on Minnesota transfer guard Gabe Kalscheur and Penn State transfer guard Izaiah Brockington, as well junior guard Blake Hinson.
In the other matchup, Memphis will take on Virginia Tech. If Xavier wins, they’ll play the winner of that matchup, and if they lose, they’ll take on the loser.
Virginia Tech is led by senior forward Keve Aluma, and he’ll be joined by Wofford transfer Storm Murphy and senior forward Justyn Mutts as key contributors for the Hokies.
On paper, Memphis has one of the most talented rosters in the country under Head Coach Penny Hardaway.
Freshmen Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren form one of the best duos in the country, and the two of them are joined by a plethora of talent. Senior Tyler Harris, redshirt junior Landers Nolley and sophomore Earl Timberlake all will be expected to play big minutes and contribute for Memphis.
Beating either Memphis or Virginia Tech will be a tall task for Xavier, especially with the expected absence of junior forward Zach Freemantle due to a foot injury. It’s realistic to expect Xavier will beat Iowa State before falling in the finals to either one of those teams.
The tournament will be a good test for the Musketeers to see how they stack up to some of the best teams in the country and get ready for later non-conference games at Oklahoma State and against Cincinnati.