Obviously this isn't going to be a scientifically backed study, seeing as we're in the middle of July and zero games have been played. One of our Facebook friends (you guy know we have a Facebook page, right?) asked if I thought Xavier could be ranked with a good weekend in Orlando, specifically one that entailed knocking off Alabama and Wichita State. I've got nothing but time, so let's cipher through this. I'll start with some factors that I think will influence the voters.
- Xavier ended last year ranked; voters love that stuff even though it has nothing to do with this year
- Xavier lost Matt Stainbrook, the lone Muskie most voters had heard of
- Xavier's first four games are 87.5% garbage; @Michigan counts as half not-garbage
- Xavier could well be 4-0 heading to Orlando; if they're not, this is all null
- Alabama is a major conference program; beating them would be a bonus even if they actually suck
- Wichita State is a media darling; beating them would be worth double points
So where does that leave us? I hate to speculate about media personalities and what makes them tick, but it's not super-complicated to figure out what gets teams ranked. Not losing is more important than winning. It's better to harvest cupcake wins on the way to a spotless record than to have even one loss, even if it was like @Kansas. Name recognition is a big deal, and Xavier has that at some level. Being in the Big East doesn't hurt. Finally, inertia is a big deal. It's easier to stay ranked than get ranked, regardless of if you're actually one of the top 25 teams in the country.
So where does that leave us? I'm saying Xavier will begin the season in the rankings or just off the bottom. Running to 4-0 before Thanksgiving would be a boost, even though that would entail at most one good win. A couple of wins in Orlando (Alabama, Wichita State probably being the most optimal) would put Xavier in a championship game against Notre Dame or Iowa.
If Xavier goes 3-0, I can see them challenging for the top 10. If they win two and fall in the final, a mid-teens slot seems possible. Of course, we're still in July, so there's a lot of ground to cover between now and then. Still, it's nice to be thinking about being ranked after a couple of years below the radar.