The good: Few teams do consistency like the Musketeers. They’ve been to the last three Sweet 16s and have done so by replacing key players in the process. No Drew Lavender? No. B.J. Raymond? No problem.
This year, that means replacing leading scorer Jordan Crawford and inside glue guy Jason Love. That means more Tu Holloway, more Jamel McLean and more Dante Jackson. Four talented newcomers, headed by freshman swingman Justin Martin, should continue that trend.
The bad: A nasty non-conference schedule could keep Xavier under the radar during the season – and even be underseeded when the NCAA tournament rolls around. Games against Butler, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, Florida, Cincinnati and possibly Alabama and Clemson in the Paradise Jam present interesting matchups, not to mention the always underrated A-10 slate.
(The reverse also applies: Xavier is perfectly capable of winning all those games and entering the Big Dance as a 2 or 3 seed.)
The unknown: Kenny Frease should be the next Xavier star. The 7-footer dropped more than 20 pounds this summer, a huge boost to his mobility and stamina. The better he is, the easier it’ll be for McLean and Mark Lyons down low. Everyone wins!
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