Big East media took place in the world’s most famous arena today. For the Xavier Musketeers, that meant a chance for some players and the coaching staff to get to New York and find out exactly what their peers think of them. It’s like the original premise of Facebook without the creepy misogyny.
Colby Jones, Zach Freemantle, and Paul Scruggs joined Travis Steele in Madison Square Garden for the unveiling of the preseason polls. The Musketeers were picked to finish third in the Big East, behind Villanova and UConn, and were tops among the teams to not receive first place votes. UConn did receive one first place vote, thought that presumably came from Jay Wright. This conference is still very much Villanova’s to win.
Zach Freemantle and Paul Scruggs joined Nate Watson (Providence), Julian Champagnie (St. John’s), and Jared Rhoden (Seton Hall) on the preseason first team. Collin Gillespie was picked as preseason player of the year. This honor is separate from the first team, so players receiving it don’t factor into the first team. No Xavier players made the second team, which was composed of Posh Alexander (St. John’s), Justin Moore (Villanova), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), RJ Cole (UConn), and Tyrese Martin (UConn). Yes, that is most of Nova’s starting five in the top two teams.
None of this comes as a particular surprise. Xavier is better this year and that is reflected in what the coaches think of them. Zach Freemantle was a co-most improved player last year and had a monster season, so his inclusion in the first team is to be expected. Paul Scruggs is one of the best guards in the conference. What this all means is that the pressure is Coach Steele. The conference thinks the Musketeers are ready. Anything but a tournament bid will be a failure.