The Pomeroy rankings dropped over the weekend, and basketball nerds the world around rejoiced. Finally the first tenuous lines of hard data have been lain down, and soon we’ll have real stats to obsess over.
Xavier started last year at #31, so starting at #11 this year is a pretty solid step up and recognition of the work the Muskies did in the 2015-2016 campaign.
The Muskies’ schedule will be challenging from the word go. Lehigh, Buffalo, and Missouri (plus the second and third games of the Puerto Rico Tip-off Classic) to start the season are all in the 100 range before a step up to UNI and South Dakota State. Pomeroy predicts all of those games to be Xavier wins.
Not so the first road game for X, when they head to #25 Baylor on December 3rd. Colorado, Utah, and Wake are all solid opponents, and Xavier finishes the non-conference with Eastern Washington. At #250, EWU is Xavier’s only 200+ opponent on the year.
The Big East doesn’t offer much let-up for Xavier. Pomeroy ranks games in tiers of A, B, and other, with tier A meaning a game equal in difficulty to taking on a top-50 team on a neutral site, B meaning equal to a 51-100 on a neutral site, and other being all the rest. Xavier has 8 tier-A conference games, 6 tier-B conference games, and just 4 “other” games (both DePaul games and the home games against St. John’s and Providence).
In the middle of Big East season, Xavier will take on UC in the Crosstown Shootout, looking to take four straight for the first time in school history. If Myles Davis is reinstated by that time, he’ll be the first Musketeers to go 4-4 against the Bearcats.
With that schedule set up, Xavier will have plenty of chances to prove it if they are actually the 11th-best team in the nation. Pomeroy has projected a 20-9 record for Xavier. With two Puerto Rico games and at least one Big East Tournament game not yet factored in, it’s not at all unlikely that Xavier could be sitting on 23-24 wins on Selection Sunday. That record with this schedule should be more than enough to have Xavier once again looking at a very strong seed in March.