Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/31/11

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The Xavier Musketeers enter this season as one of the elite “mid-major” programs in the country.  Actually, they have become a major program competing in a non-power conference.  X has captured five straight Atlantic 10 titles and won at least 24 games in each of those seasons.  That level of success should continue this season with three starters returning and the addition of several key newcomers.

XAVIER MUSKETEERS
Last Season: 1st, 15-1 in A-10, 24-8 overall
Predicted A-10 Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
C: Kenny Frease (Sr)
PF: Travis Taylor (Jr)/Andre Walker (Sr)/Jeff Robinson (Jr)/Griffin McKenzie (So)
SF: Justin Martin (Fr)/Dezmine Wells (Fr)
SG: Mark Lyons (Jr)/Brad Redford (Jr)
PG: Tu Holloway (Sr)/Dee Davis (Fr)

Gone: PF-Jamel McLean, G/F-Dante Jackson, F/C- Andrew Taylor, PF-Jordan Latham (transfer-Loyola, MD), G/F-Jay Canty (transfer-Appalachian State)

2011-2012 Outlook:
A huge reason the Musketeers are receiving such high pre-season praise is due to the return of their starting backcourt of Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons.  The reigning A-10 Player of the Year, Holloway is a stat stuffer having averaged nearly 20 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds per game.  He was also named to All-Defensive Team and put a huge smile on head coach Chris Mack’s face when he decided to return for his senior season.

Lyons is under-sized off guard who is also capable of running the point when needed.  The 6-1 junior is a volume shooter but gives Xavier one of the best backcourts in the country.  The return of Brad Redford will also add a major boost off the bench.  He missed all of last season due to knee injury but gives the Musketeers a sorely needed sharpshooter since they shot less than 33% as a team from three.  Freshman Dee Davis could also factor into the backcourt equation seeing some time at the point.

Anchoring the middle will be seven-footer Kenny Frease who continues to develop as a big man.  He was suspended indefinitely in mid-October for “not fulfilling his responsibilities of a Xavier basketball player” but has been since been reinstated.  Frease is a big body down low who can score with his back to the basket and also has improved his mid-range game.

The Musketeers adds some talent up-front via transfer.  Travis Taylor had a mammoth sophomore season at Monmouth and becomes eligible after sitting out last season.  He is a high energy play who should help offset the loss of Jamel McLean.  Vanderbilt transfer Andrew Walker will be able to play right away since he got his undergrad and is attending Xavier as a grad student.  Taylor and Walker will compete with last year’s key frontcourt reserve Jeff Robinson for the starting power forward spot but all three will be key contributors.  Sophomore Griffin McKenzie figures to be the odd man out of the rotation but gives Mack even more depth.

Like Taylor, Townson transfer Isaiah Philmore will take a step up in competition by playing for the Musketeers.  Philmore was the sixth leading scorer in the CAA last season but must sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules.

It will be interesting to see Mack does with his fifth starting spot.  Justin Martin didn’t qualify as a freshman last year but was able to practice with the Musketeers.  He is the ideal fit at small forward due to his length, versatility, and ability to shoot the ball.  True freshman Dezmine Wells is another candidate and should contribute right away.  Mack could also go with a three-guard look by inserting Redford alongside Holloway and Lyons.  I am giving Martin the nod for now.

Xavier once again plays a loaded non-conference schedule that will help prepare them for March since they will not be as tested in the slightly down Atlantic 10.  Mack has the talent to lead Xavier to the Final Four for the first time in school history.  It’s just a matter of getting all the pieces to jell together when it matters most.

Player to Watch: Tu Holloway
As awesome as the basketball player formerly known as “Terrell” was last season, he saved his worst for last, scoring just four points and turning the ball over five times in Xavier’s opening round loss to Marquette in the NCAA Tournament.  He will certainly be out for redemption this year.  That redemption though, may not involve as much scoring since the Musketeers have more talent and depth than they did a year ago.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. Georgia
11/28 at Vanderbilt
12/3 vs. Purdue
12/7 at Butler
12/10 vs. Cincinnati
12/22 vs. Long Beach State (Diamond Head Classic)
12/23 vs. Clemson/UTEP (Diamond Head Classic)
12/25 Kansas State/Southern Illinois/Auburn/Hawaii (Diamond Head Classic)
12/31 vs. Gonzaga
2/4 at Memphis

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#13 Louisville Cardinals
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs
#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs
#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

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 on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

 

PLAYERS: Kenny FreaseTravis TaylorJeff RobinsonGriffin McKenzieJustin MartinMark LyonsBrad RedfordJamel McLeanDante` JacksonAndrew TaylorJordan LathamJay Canty
TEAMS: Xavier MusketeersAppalachian State MountaineersKansas State WildcatsLouisville CardinalsArizona WildcatsWisconsin BadgersAlabama Crimson TideGonzaga BulldogsMichigan WolverinesTemple OwlsCincinnati BearcatsKansas JayhawksUNLV RebelsWashington HuskiesUCLA BruinsButler BulldogsMissouri TigersTexas LonghornsVillanova WildcatsMichigan State SpartansFlorida State SeminolesNotre Dame Fighting IrishHarvard CrimsonIllinois Fighting IlliniOregon DucksWichita State ShockersBelmont BruinsMississippi State BulldogsPurdue BoilermakersBrigham Young CougarsVirginia CavaliersKent State Golden FlashesArkansas RazorbacksSt. John's Red StormNorthwestern WildcatsGeorgetown HoyasMiami HurricanesNevada WolfpackDetroit TitansVirginia Tech HokiesClemson TigersTennessee VolunteersIona GaelsMurray State RacersFairfield StagsIndiana State SycamoresOklahoma State CowboysIndiana HoosiersUAB BlazersIowa State CyclonesCreighton BluejaysUSC TrojansWeber State WildcatsMaryland TerrapinsTulsa Golden HurricaneMinnesota Golden GophersDayton FlyersStanford CardinalYale BulldogsGeorgia BulldogsRutgers Scarlet KnightsRichmond SpidersBall State CardinalsUtah State AggiesArizona State Sun DevilsMarshall Thundering HerdOregon State BeaversWashington State CougarsIowa HawkeyesMississippi RebelsNebraska CornhuskersOklahoma SoonersLSU TigersColorado BuffaloesDePaul Blue DemonsGeorgia Tech Yellow JacketsWake Forest Demon DeaconsSeton Hall PiratesProvidence FriarsAuburn TigersTexas Tech Red RaidersPenn State Nittany LionsBoston College EaglesUtah Running UtesLong Beach State 49ersMarquette Golden EaglesNew Mexico LobosCalifornia Golden BearsWest Virginia MountaineersGeorge Mason PatriotsOld Dominion MonarchsNew Mexico State AggiesNorth Carolina State WolfpackWestern Michigan BroncosSouth Florida BullsSouth Carolina Gamecocks
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