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A tough road to travel for Xavier

By kyle isaacs
On October 27, 2011

The Xavier men's basketball program's mantra has always been to schedule tough non-conference opponents while battling through the always challenging Atlantic 10

Conference schedule. That philosophy has not changed for the 2011-12 season, seeing as Xavier sports one of the

more challenging schedules in college basketball.

"We want to challenge ourselves as often as we can against the best teams in the country," head coach Chris Mack said. The season tips off with four home games, beginning with the season-opener against Morgan

State on Nov. 11, without the help of senior point guard Tu

Holloway. Following the game against the University of Georgia on Nov. 25, the Musketeers enter the gauntlet of their schedule. They travel to Vanderbilt University to face the seventhranked Commodores at Memorial Gymnasium, which, according to Bleacher Report, is the ninth toughest place to play in all of college basketball. After the Vanderbilt game, the Musketeers return home to face Purdue University. Purdue, a top-25 team the past two seasons,

returns senior Robbie Hummel, who is one of the premiere college basketball players. Xavier then hits the road to

play at Butler University, a team that has appeared in the past two National Championships. While the Bulldogs might have a depleted roster, the rivalry between Xavier and Butler has always produced classic matchups, including the last game at Hinkle Fieldhouse (the infamous clock

play that led to a Xavier defeat). After facing off with a relatively new rival at Butler, the Musketeers return home to face legendary rival University of Cincinnati. The Bearcats, who are ranked number 22, always play Xavier well, including last year's victory. The two teams will face off on

Dec. 10 in Cintas Center. The schedule for the men's

team includes some challenging games during the winter break. Following the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu Xavier plays host to Gonzaga University, ranked 23. The Bulldogs, who stole one away from Xavier last year in Spokane, Wash., will be a last test before the Musketeers enter their conference schedule. The A-10 schedule features many of the classic matchups, including a visit to Temple, a homeand- home with Dayton and a visit from last year's surprise team, Duquesne. In February, Xavier will play an unusual non-conference game when they travel to the University of Memphis to face the ninthranked

Tigers. According to CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman, this matchup is one of the top out-of-conference games to watch all season. In fact, out of the 20 games Goodman lists, Xavier is included in three of those marquee

matchups: at Memphis (No. 11), vs. Cincinnati (No. 15) and at Vanderbilt (No. 18). This high praise for the Musketeers schedule will benefit Xavier come tournament time because

a challenging schedule is favorable in the eyes of the selection committee when determining a team's seed.

If Xavier, who is ranked 15th in the preseason polls, can knock off some of the top-ranked teams on their schedule, the Musketeers will be in great position for the NCAA Tournament come March.

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