Xavier’s mediocre 2018-2019 season came to a disappointing halt following a 78-76 overtime loss to Texas in the second round of the NIT. Travis Steele’s first year as a head coach came with its own set of challenges. The Musketeers shot a mere 33.1% from beyond the arc, good for 245th in the nation. Last year’s squad turned the ball over 13.3 times per game (208th in the country.) Defensive and offensive inconsistencies plagued the Musketeers all season. Xavier scored a season-low 47 points against intercity rival, Cincinnati. Multiple times throughout the season, the Musketeers would jump out to early leads, only to blow the game later in the 2nd half. When they played Auburn in the Maui Invitational, Xavier tied the game up to head into overtime, only to be outscored 11-2 in the final period. Travis Steele is looking to put these inconsistencies behind him as the Muskies seeks to rebound off a 19-16 record.
Despite testing the NBA draft waters, Xavier returns its Core Four – Naji Marshall, Tyrique Jones, Quentin Goodin, and Paul Scruggs. All four players averaged over 11 points per game. Additionally, the Musketeers are bringing in the nation’s 26th ranked recruiting class (per 247sports) with four 4-star prospects and a 3-star prospect. The recruits – Kyky Tandy, Dahmir Bishop, Zach Freemantle, Daniel Ramsey, and Dieonte Miles – have Xavier set up for long term success. Xavier also brings in two transfers. Bryce Moore is a graduate transfer from Western Michigan, where he played three years as a guard. He averaged 9.8 points per game in 2017-2018, his final season at Western Michigan. (A knee injury that shut him down for the entire 2018-2019 season). Jason Carter, the junior forward, averaged 16.5 points per game last year with the Ohio Bobcats. He brings a much needed three-point shooting threat to this Musketeers offense.
As Travis Steele enters his second year as the head coach for the Xavier Musketeers, he is preparing his team to be elite defensively and be smarter on the offensive side of the ball. Xavier hosts Jacksonville on Tuesday, November 5th, for their home opener. Note that Big East play officially starts on Monday, December 30th, when Xavier travels to Villanova. Xavier is also participating in the Charleston Classic along with Towson (their first opponent), Missouri State, Miami, Florida, Saint Joseph’s, Buffalo, and UConn.
Xavier will likely return to the NCAA tournament following a year where they just barely missed out. The experience on the Musketeers roster is second to none in the Big East.
Prediction: 21 wins, 3rd in the Big East