It's like Christmas in October for basketball nerds as Ken Pomeroy's preseason rankings are out. Xavier checks in at 31st overall, projected to have an elite offense and an above-average defense. Pomeroy's numerical alchemy is based on a lot of assumptions at this point, so even the man himself encourages readers to take the preseason numbers with a healthy grain of salt.
The #31 ranking is projected to be good for 18 wins for Xavier before the second and third games of the Thanksgiving tournament and any postseason play are factored in. Pomeroy doesn't project those games because it's not clear who Xavier's opponents will be at this point. For what it's worth, X started out 67th in KenPom's numbers and projected for 17 wins last year. They obviously overachieved compared to those numbers.
In addition to Villanova at the top of the Big East and ranked fifth, Pomeroy has Georgetown (#27) and Butler (#29) slotted ahead of Xavier among conference teams. After Nova's 14-4, Georgetown, Butler, and Xavier are all projected to run 11-7 records in conference play. That battle for the second spot - or indeed anywhere in the top four if Villanova falters - figures to be a fairly competitive one again this year.
Other interesting opponents include UC at #14 behind the third-ranked defense in the nation and just enough scoring to get them by. Michigan (#17), Alabama (#77), and Wake Forest (#60) round out top-100 non-conference opponents on Xavier's schedule, though Wichita State (#15), USC (#55), Notre Dame (#16), Iowa (#36), and Dayton (#65) are all potential quality matchups in a loaded AdvoCare Invitational field.