The Big East schedule dropped yesterday, and with it came a confirmation of Xavier's full slate. After the Wooden Legacy comes a not as impressive as usual non-conference schedule, and then a New Year's Eve tipoff of Big East play. As the whole thing shook out, the Banners brain trust gathered to kick things around. Feel free to add your comments at the bottom.
Joel: We open with Georgetown on NYE. I love the tradition the Big East has started of getting the season going on New Year's Eve, but I'll be honest, I'm not a kid anymore. A 10pm tip time is late.
Brad: It's better than 10a, but I'm kind of with you. That means a late night for everyone, especially those poor student-athletes.
Joel: That January is going to be brutal: six away games, only three at home, and one of the home games is a Saturday after being at Providence on Thursday. We'll find out how deep we are then.
Brad: Look at those KenPom rankings though, it's not exactly Murderers Row we are facing.
Joel: It's definitely an accumulation of pain though. We managed to lose twice to Seton Hall last year largely because of where they showed up in the schedule. We go at Nova, Marquette, at Providence in eight days and then have less than 40 hours between the end of the Providence game and our tip with DePaul. That's a stretch where a bad team can nick a game off of you because you had to shower, travel, go to class (ostensibly), and prep for them in a short period after a tough stretch.
Brad: That's true, but we also lost to Seton Hall because we weren't very good. Nova is tough, but do any other games really leap off the schedule right now? I think Georgetown could be good too, but we aren't far from being the class of this conference.
Joel: Providence, Marquette, and Georgetown could all possibly end up in the mix at the very top. The national critique is that the Big East may lack a marquee top-tier team, and it's not one without merit. It's a deep league with several very good teams and few garbage ones, but I think I agree that there's no true monster in the ranks as I see it right now. Maybe a couple of months of non-conference play will sort that.
It will be interesting to see how Creighton adjusts to losing McDermott and Wragge but mostly McDermott.
Bry: I am looking toward the last part of February as the make or break part of the season, actually. Provided we don't blow it against someone bad or win at Nova, the stretch of St. John's twice, UC, Butler, and Villanova in a two week stretch will be when our tournament resume is either sealed or destroyed. Marquette, Providence, Georgetown, and Mizzou are all winnable games that should help, but either faltering or excelling down that stretch will most likely determine how and where this team plays in the postseason.
Joel: As far as the order of the schedule goes... playing Nova is going to be tough, obviously, but I think the schedulers did us no favors with that away game against Georgetown at the end of a tough run of games. On the other hand, we have a long week to prepare to go to Providence, who I think is going to be sneaky tough this year. Having Creighton and Nova late doesn't look nearly as daunting as it did last year, since the Bluejays lost the top half of their roster over the summer.
Brad: The nice thing is that DePaul comes before that Georgetown game. I'm still pondering how good I actually think the schedule is this year. You used to look at a Xavier schedule and see two or three big games that jumped out at you. Where are those this year?
Joel: Providence was snakebitten a little bit last year with injuries and eligibility problems, so I think they have the potential to be a very good team. Nova is going to be strong. Georgetown has reason to believe they'll be a meaningful force in March. I think those all could be very good games, along with UC and maybe Missouri. As far as real top line games go, though, we may not have any. This schedule is more about consistently executing than having that one signature win.
Bry: Obviously UC, but I think with such a young roster the opening night of conference play at home against Georgetown would be a big game to win in terms of the team approaching the rest of the season feeling like they can contend. I also would love to see the early season tournament not be a complete disaster this year for a change, just for the sake of my sanity.
Joel: Yeah, no kidding. I'd like to be celebrating with leftover pie, not drowning my sorrows in it.