Did you miss part 1 earlier today? First of all, shame on you, but second, click to your left and get caught up. We're still in the process of giving a brief rundown of every non-conference game on the schedule, linking to our full breakdown from the award-winning "Know Your Non-conference Opponent" series, and each picking a winner so we have something to argue about later. Please enjoy, and don't forget to vote in the poll and go on record in the comments section so we can argue with you later, too.
NB: teams are noted with last year's record and this year's season-opening Ken Pom ranking. Full write-ups include in-depth information on the team's losses, returnees, incoming players, and playing style from our "Know Your Non-conference Opponent" series.
This is a tournament loaded with possibility for Xavier. If the Muskies take down Iowa, they will play at 7pm on November 29th for a chance to go into the final on the 30th. Even a loss in the second round would put our boys into the third-place game at 7 on the 30th. A loss in the first round would dump X into the consolation bracket and have them playing their second game about 14 hours after their first ended. The result there would make the difference between playing for 5th and playing for 7th, but once you're in the consolation bracket, nobody cares about you.
Depending on results, X will face either Tennessee or UTEP in their second game. The third game will be contested against one of the four teams from the other side of the bracket, in this case Kansas, Wake, Villanova, and USC. There are some tough games in there, but if things go well, Xavier could leave the Bahamas with games against Iowa, UT, and Kansas under their belts. Good showings against those three would come in handy when Selection Sunday rolls around.
Brad's pick: Tennessee or UTEP I can see, but, after that, I run out of faith.
Joel's pick: Xavier has a tough row to hoe; I try to be an optimist, but - gun to my head - I'm seeing a 5th place finish.
KenPom's take: Not even the very wise can see all ends. Pomeroy has not broken down the potential matchups in the second and third rounds.
My dear mother's alma mater comes to town a full week after the Battle4Atlantis wraps up, and the week off will probably be more difficult than the contest at the end of it. BG plays bad offense at a slow passing, combining an inability to score with trouble rebounding and a turnover problem to create a sincerely poor viewing experience. On top of that, their top two scorers from last season's triumphant 13-19 campaign have both moved on.
Chauncey Orr - the coach's son - is back and poised to break out from his 7.5PPG average with an increase to his 15.9% usage rate. Six-foot-eight forward Richaun Holmes blocked 2.3 shots per game while averaging only 18.8, but he also collected fouls like the sound of the whistle gave him an endorphin rush. Face-up four Garrett Meyleben and wing JD Tisdale are freshmen whose best work is on defense right now, but incoming shooting guard Zach Denny is a catch-and-shoot threat from well beyond the arc. For the full write-up on Bowling Green, click here.
Brad's pick: Win, and not a close one. I'm sure BG is a nice place, but they play in a lower level of the basketball world.
Joel's pick: Win. With a week to prepare/recover, there's no reason a team like BG should challenge X. Sorry, Mom.
KenPom's take: 70-57 Xavier win, 92% chance of any Xavier victory
The Purple Aces are coming off of their first 20-win season this century and no doubt look to build on that momentum. The team doesn't really have an offensive fingerprint beyond moving the ball and eschewing the three-pointer, but their defense is consistently in the top 100 in forcing turnovers. Teams that don't give the Aces the ball have no trouble getting good shots. Four of Evansville's top five players in minutes from last year are not on this year's roster.
Returning for Evansville are volume-scoring guard D.J. Balentine and dunk machine Egidijus Mockevicius, who is in combat with Todd Posthumus for my favorite Xavier opponent name this year. Five new faces join the team this year, all guards ranging from 5'11" penetrate and kick artist Jaylon Brown to 6'5" coach's son Blake Simmons. For the full write-up on Evansville, click here.
Brad's pick: Win. I didn't realize how good(ish) the Purple Aces were last year, but they aren't this year.
Joel's pick: Win. Evansville is on the schedule to get beaten, and with so much of their team from last year having moved on, they should oblige easily.
KenPom's take: 71-61 Xavier win, 84% chance of any Xavier victory
The Crosstown Shootout is, to employ the tired cliché, a rivalry in which the records can be thrown out. I recall distinctly that being ranked #1 in the nation is no security against getting knocked off by your in-city rival. The Bearcats likely won't be rated that highly on the way in this year, but they will bring Mick Cronin's brand of bruising defense and just-enough offense to the neutral site this game will hopefully not call home for much longer. Losing perimeter threats Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker and defensive-minded big man Cheik Mbodj from last year will give UC a different look this time around.
Sean Kilpatrick will lead the way for Cincinnati again this year, bringing his brand of volume scoring and incessant smack talk back to campus for what seems like the 10th consecutive year. Joining him will be - you know what? You don't need me to tell you about this game. Unless this is your first visit to a Xavier-themed blog, you know what is going on. For the full write-up on Cincinnati, click here.
Brad's pick: Loss. Man, I hate to type that. I fear the Bearcats defense against our guards. It will be a very, very close game.
Joel's pick: Win. KenPom and I don't see eye-to-eye on this one; I don't think UC's defense can make up for their inability to score, and Xavier's new depth will make the difference.
KenPom's take: 64-63 Xavier loss, 44% chance of any Xavier victory
The Tide plays slowly, averaging just 61.6 possessions per game last year. Additionally, they're smothering on defense, forcing turnovers and surrendering low shooting percentages from inside and outside the arc. They can be had a little bit on the defensive glass, but it's not been enough to get them out of the top 20 in defensive efficiency in any of the last three years. On offense, they're just average, but that's all they have to be. Their biggest loss is Trevor Lacey, a guard who averaged 11.3 per game last year but chose to leave for NC State.
Returning is scoring guard Trevor Releford, who posted 14.9 PPG with an ORtg of 116.5. He can knock down threes but prefers to attack the rim and does so with aplomb. A pair of catch-and-shoot 6'5" wings return in Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph, as does 6'8", 265-pound bruiser Nick Jacobs. JuCo transfer guard Algie Key is a born scorer who should fill the hole Lacey left, and ESPN100 bigs Shannon Hale (6'8", 210) and Jimmie Taylor (6'10", 210) will contribute right away. For the full write-up on Alabama, click here.
Brad's pick: Loss. This one will be ugly, not in score, but in type of basketball played.
Joel's pick: Loss. Alabama is like UC but better, and the combination of being on the road and playing a team who can score is too much for Xavier.
KenPom's take: 65-59 Xavier loss, 25% chance of any Xavier victory
The Demon Deacons have played some pretty bad basketball under Jeff Bzdelik, and that trend continued to the tune of just 13 wins last year. Wake has played an up-tempo brand of ball under Bzdelik, apparently eager to give themselves more chances to turn the ball over or miss shots from all over the court. On defense, they were okay without doing anything extremely well. They're going to have to do better than that to make up for their offense, especially with team leader in everything C.J. Harris having graduated and three-point ace Chase Fischer transferring to BYU.
Three players who started as freshmen return, led by PG Codi Miller-McIntyre, who should carry the loan on the perimeter this year. Six-nine forward Devin Thomas is a great rebounder and shot blocker who needs to step up his finishing skills, and Arnaud William Adala Moto was an inefficient scorer but a great trier. Rising senior forward Travis McKie will lead the way, having put up 13.5 and 7.0 last year while averaging 1.4 steals and 1 block per game. Coron Williams joins as an immediately eligible transfer from Robert Morris and can really fill it up from deep. For the full write-up on Wake Forest, click here.
Brad's pick: Win. Xavier has the edge on the court and in coaching.
Joel's pick: Win. This Wake Forest team is stuffed with young talent, but they're a year behind Xavier in turning it into results.
KenPom's take: 71-64 Xavier win, 74% chance of any Xavier victory