Xavier fans now know what date to circle on their calendars for the return of Musketeers basketball thanks to the university announcing four non-conference home games today. The Miami (OH) Redhawks will be Xavier's first opponent on November 13th, a game which has frequented the schedule recently and has been surprisingly unpredictable, given the programs' relative statures to one another. Miami last won at Cintas in 2004, but has waylaid Xavier on the road a couple of times since then, although Xavier has won the last two including a 26 point thrashing in November of 2013.
The next game announced, although certainly not next on the schedule, will be 10 days later when X hosts Northern Kentucky. The Norse will be meeting X as a member of Division I for the first time ever, this being just their fourth season since coming up from D-II. Even newer to NKU fans will be coach John Brannen, who recently replace the departing Dave Bezold. Also familiar to X fans will be Dante Jackson, who spent last season as an assistant at NKU.
The Wright State Raiders will visit December 8th and serve as the final tune up for UC, having last played a Big East team in November of 2013, when they got swamped by Georgetown on the road 88-70. While their record since that point has done little to indicate that was an aberration, coach Billy Donlon will be desperate for a win over one of the local big dogs to get his program moving in the right direction again,after a poor 2014-2015 season.
The final game announced today was the long-awaited return of the Crosstown Shootout to the Cintas Center, where a thing happened in 2011 that got people in trouble. X will try to make it 3 in a row overall and 6 in a row at home over the Bearcats on December 12th, meaning that 2015 is a rare double-Shootout year! Much, much more will be written about this game between now and then, but somehow even seeing UC on the schedule makes basketball season not seem for far in the future.