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Previewing the Unknown

It’s time to start looking ahead at a season like no other.

Big East Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

At this time of year we would usually be knee deep in player previews, just a couple weeks from Xavier’s first game. That isn’t the case at Banners this year. If you’ve been with us through the Covid summer and the end of last season, you know that covering college basketball is a thing that has happened in spurts around flattening curves, mask orders, hand washing ad infinitum, and the rest of what now passes for the new normal.

And a new normal it is. We won’t all gather at the Cintas this season. There may be nights when a handful of fans are in attendance and some media members fill our privileged seats around the court, but if that happens it won’t be the norm. There may never be a day when 11,000 unmasked people fill Xavier’s basketball arena again. It’s an odd thought to consider explaining to the next generation that large gatherings in indoor spaces used to be thing.

That’s for the long future, though. In the short term, college basketball is happening this year. (Or it at least will start). Those aren’t words that I was certain I would say back in July when all the world was mad. It remains mad now, but the blessed inconsistencies of government means that our favorite sport still breathes and holds hope to convene come March of 2021.

To that end, it’s time to start looking ahead. Every part of our preview will come with the loaded “if” that hangs over this full season. We know that, you know that, the players know that. Covid may end this season before it starts, in January, or cruelly just days before the tournament again. There’s nothing any of us can do about that.

Rather than dwell on that, we’re going to start this week by giving you the usual preview in the usual fashion. We’ll look at the non-conference opponents that we know Xavier will play, roll out player previews for every scholarship player, and take a look at what the rest of the Big East has been up to. For the next few weeks at least, we’re going to pretend that this basketball season is going to happen just like so many before it have.

It’s time for college basketball.