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Xavier lands at 26th in the preseason KenPom rankings

The Muskies are projected to contend at the top of the Big East and have every chance to put together a tournament-worthy resume.

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare / The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

If you're pinched for time, you can probably click away now. The headline doubles as the punchline on this one. Xavier debuts at 26 in the KenPom rankings for this year, 40 spots above where they finished last season. It's worth noting that X finished almost exactly where they started in the rankings last year; if that holds, they'll be cruising to the tournament this season.

Coach Steele prides himself on coaching defense, and Xavier's lands at exactly 50 in this projection. I'm not sure that means a whole lot at this point other than to illustrate that there's room for the Muskies to grow as the season wears on. If they can hold their 17th position in offensive efficiency and play the kind of defense their coach preaches, they'll have a really strong season.

Every Big East team bar one - DePaul at 140 - lands inside the top 100. Georgetown, Providence, and Marquette land between 76 and 100, and everyone else is 55 or above. If the Pomeroy rankings hold (they won't), seven teams from the league will be positioned to make a case for at-large inclusion to the tournament.

Xavier's non-conference schedule is highlighted by a visit from #8 Ohio State and a trip to #37 Oklahoma State. There's also a game against either #16 Memphis or #39 Virginia Tech in the preseason NIT to round out the top tier of Xavier's non-con competition. Cincinnati, for what it's worth, currently sits at #117 as they try to claw clear of the wreckage of the John Brannen era.

Without the Memphis/Va Tech game or any postseason play, Xavier is projected to go 21-9 (12-8). If they accomplish that, they should easily break their streak of tournaments missed at 2.