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Xavier grabs a first-place vote in 2016-2017 Big East preseason coaches poll

The reigning national champs somehow snuck ahead of X at the top.

The preseason Big East coaches poll is out and Xavier is in a comfortable second place. Xavier is five points ahead of third-place Creighton but we'll adrift of Villanova at the top. The Wildcats come into the year with substantial momentum, having won the national championship last season.

The coaches see the league as fairly clearly stratified. You would assume the top three teams in the Big East would be fairly comfortable on Selection Sunday. Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Butler fall next, likely in fairly solid at-large position coming down the stretch.

From there there are four teams with significant challenges coming into the year. Marquette lost Henry Ellenson to the draft after just one year and they weren't that great with him. St. John's lost six guys off of a team that went six deep a couple of years back and Chris Mullin is swinging his feet on the scorer's table in an attempt to recover.

Further down, Providence rode Dunn and Bentil hard all year and saw them both go to the draft. Is Ed Cooley a good coach? He has a chance to show it this year. DePaul is still the team that hired Dave Leitao twice.