Xavier's first matchup in the 2019 Charleston Classic will be in game #3 on November 21 against the Towson Tigers. Towson went 18-14 last year, including a disappointing 8-10 mark in Colonial Athletic play. They bring back a veteran squad led by four returning seniors. They're projected at 146th in the nation in Bart Torvik's preseason rankings. We'll break them down further in our annual Know Your Non-conference Opponent Series.
According to Torvik's projections, which are pretty much the numbers we have to work with until KenPom rolls out his preseason rankings, the field is fairly strong. Future conference foe UConn is slotted at 68th; their first round opponent is Buffalo, decimated by attrition and nearly the weakest team in the bracket at 174th.
On the other side of the challenge is preseason #1 Florida, who shot up the rankings thanks to adding Va. Tech grad transfer Kerry Blackshear, Jr. They'll be the favorite to win this tournament as well as probably the one in March that you may already be looking forward to. The Gators will take on 262nd-ranked St. Joseph's in what projects to be either a walkover or the upset of the year. Rounding out Florida's side of the bracket are Missouri State (107) and Miami (FL) (55).
The event is set up the way most of these things are, with headline teams (Florida, Xavier), interesting names with more than a puncher's chance (UConn, Miami (FL)), and then filler teams ranging from those with a chance to steal a game before the last place matchup (Missouri State, Towson) to those who are there to make the math work (the other two teams). No doubt the organizers are hoping for ratings grabbing matchups from Florida-Miami (FL) and Xavier-UConn heading into a clash between two top teams in the final.
If Xavier takes care of business, they have the chance to leave this thing with at least one good win and a potentially resume-defining matchup against Florida. Early-season events have a tendency to produce some wonky outcomes, but Xavier will have the advantage of the preseason trip to Spain to get clicking. This will be an opportunity for this team to put down a marker and show how far they've come since the same point last year.