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Challenging non-conference for men

By Kyle Issacs
On October 31, 2012

The Xavier men's basketball team is no stranger to a tough slate of games and this season's schedule
is no different from previous years. The Musketeers' schedule
includes some difficult challenges that will test Xavier early and often.
According to ESPN's non-conference schedule analysis, the Musketeers have the third toughest
out of conference schedule in the 16-team Atlantic 10 conference.
Following the season opener
against Farleigh Dickenson University, Xavier welcomes the newest A-10 member, Butler University, to Cintas Center as part of the ESPN 24 hour College Hoops Marathon.
In a strange turn of events, this game will be the first of two contests against the Bulldogs, though only the second game in Indianapolis will be considered
as a conference game.
The next test for Xavier will come at the DIRECTV Classic in Anaheim during Thanksgiving Break. The Musketeers open against Pacific University with possible games looming against Saint Mary's University, Georgia Tech and the University of California.
While no team in this tournament
field is ranked, it does include
many NCAA Tournament contenders. Coming out on top in this tournament could boost the Musketeers' postseason resume.
Xavier will have a difficult two games following the DIRECTV Classic when they return to the Midwest to face Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
After this road game, the Musketeers will play host to Vanderbilt University, whom the men's basketball
team beat last year in an overtime
thriller. The Commodores boast a far different
roster than their 2011 squad, but if the past is any indication, they will be a difficult opponent come December.
When the rest of the student body heads home for Christmas break, the Musketeers will hit the road for three key games.
The revamped
Crosstown Classic against rival
University of Cincinnati will be a tough game, as usual, but will have a new feel to it this season
since it will take place at US Bank Arena.
The Bearcats are on the cusp of the preseason top-25 rankings
and return some key starters, so this contest could be a crucial turning point in the Musketeers' season.
Near the beginning of the new year, Xavier will travel photosouth to Knoxville to take on the University of Tennessee.
The Volunteers have won twelve straight home games, including
victories over some ranked teams, so this late December tilt will be no easy task.
The Musketeers conclude the majority of their non-conference slate with a game at Wake Forest University in the Skip Prosser Classic.
The final out-of-conference game will take place in the midst of the A-10 schedule, when Xavier hosts the University of Memphis.
The Tigers are a top-20 team in the preseason rankings and will be a very difficult challenge for the Musketeers.
Xavier has multiple opportunities
to pick up quality
wins, both in-conference
and out. The Musketeers will experience
some growing pains with their youth and inexperience,
but will have numerous games to gauge their growth as a team.
Though it is too early to predict
if they will be dancing come March, one thing is for sure: the lack of quality games will not be the culprit if we miss out on the tournament.


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