Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
Year in and year out, the Xavier Musketeers are a perennial mid-major power. They can compete with some of the best power conference teams around and always test themselves with a challenging non-conference schedule. This season will be a year of transition for Chris Mack though as X loses all five of its starters including Dezmine Wells who was recently expelled from the school.
Last Season: T-3rd, 10-6 in A-10, 23-13 overall
Predicted A-10 Finish: 7th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Jeff Robinson (Sr)/Jaylen Reynolds (Fr)
PF: Travis Taylor (Sr)/Isaiah Philmore (Jr)/James Farr (Fr)
SF: Justin Martin (So)/Chris Cantino (Jr)
SG: Brad Redford (Sr)
PG: Dee Davis (So)/Smaj Christon (Fr)
Gone: PG-Tu Holloway, C-Kenny Frease, PF-Andre Walker, G-Mark Lyons (transfer-Arizona), G/F-Dezmine Wells (transfer-Maryland), PF-Griffin McKenzie (transfer-Denver)
Wells was kicked out of school for a “serious violation” in a ruling that has come under some scrutiny. Add in the graduation of star point guard Tu Holloway and transfer of Mark Lyons to Arizona, and Mack loses a ton of talent in the backcourt. It is going to be an impossible task to replace the 32.6 points, 7.5 assists per game that Holloway and Lyons brought to the table but the loss of Wells makes the odds even worse.
Dee Davis will likely assume Holloway’s position at the point though talented freshman Semaj Christon is expected to push for playing time right away. Brad Redford who has been used primarily as a three-point specialist off the bench should see an expanded role with freshman sharpshooter Myles Davis expected to back him up. However, it was recently announced that Davis did not qualify this season and won’t even be allowed to practice with the team this year. That is a huge blow for a Musketeer team that was already thin with their guard depth.
Wells’ controversial exit from Xavier opens the door for Justin Martin to start at small forward. Martin is athletic and at his best off the bounce but does not shoot the ball well at all (a 35.7 free throw percentage last year? Ish.) Junior college transfer Chris Cantino was a late addition to the roster and will provide depth at the three although I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Musketeers use a three-guard line-up quite a bit.
Mack also loses his starting frontcourt from last year in Kenny Frease and Andre Walker. While there is still decent depth up-front, Xavier lacks a real go-to post threat. Jeff Robinson and Travis Taylor were reserves a year ago and will likely become starters this year. Townson transfer Isaiah Philmore might have something to say about that though. He sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules but averaged 15.3 points and 7 rebounds per game as sophomore.
Freshmen James Farr and Jaylen Reynolds will push for PT behind the more experienced players. That gives Mack five viable options in his frontcourt, however none of those five players are a true center meaning X doesn’t have a real rim protector on the defensive end either. Western Michigan transfer Matt Stainbrook will add some size and toughness next season but he must sit out this year.
It is certainly an unfamiliar site to see Xavier picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10 Conference. With the additions of VCU and Butler, and other teams like St. Louis, UMass, and St. Joseph’s returning a ton of talent, the Musketeers run of seven straight trips to the Big Dance is in serious jeopardy,
Player to Watch: Semaj Christon
Xavier doesn’t have a lot of true playmakers which makes Christon’s presence on the floor vital to any sort of success the team might have. Christon is at his best off the bounce and is a solid athlete despite his wiry frame. I would not at all be surprised if Christon wins the starting point guard spot or at the very least, takes over for Dre Davis at some point during the season. Either way, his role will be even more magnified due to the loss of Myles Davis and should expect to see plenty of time play the two guard spot as well.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/13 vs. Butler
11/22 vs. Pacific (Anaheim Classic)
11/23 vs. St. Mary’s/Drexel (Anaheim Classic)
11/25 vs. Cal/Drake/Georgia Tech/Rice (Anaheim Classic)
12/1 at Purdue
12/6 vs. Vanderbilt
12/6 vs. Kent State
12/19 vs. Cincinnati
12/29 at Tennessee
1-2 at Wake Forest
2/26 vs. Memphis
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Follow paulmbanks