Xavier comes into 2009-2010 with a lot of newcomers. Derrick Brown left early for the NBA, BJ Raymond and CJ Anderson graduated and head coach Sean Miller left for Arizona.
But the scrappy Jesuit school located in Cincinnati has consistently found a way to win games and make the postseason. Since a 30-victory season in 2006, they've had consistent roster turnover, yet remain at or near the top of the Atlantic-10 Conference.
After a run in the tournament last year, the Musketeers and new head coach Chris Mack are poised for another run. Their roster may not have a lot of household names, but they will be dancing in March.
The Musketeers' best player is sophomore guard Jordan Crawford. Crawford is eligible to play
Two other sophomores will get some big minutes in the Xavier backcourt. Both Brad Redford and Terrell Holloway are averaging double-figures in scoring at 11 and 10 points, respectively. Redford continues to be a lights-out shooter, connecting on 63 percent of his attempts from downtown, after hitting 47 percent last season. Holloway, the starting point guard for the Musketeers, has done an excellent job of protecting the ball. He has dished out 10 assists while turning the ball over just once, so far this season. Mark Lyons is another prominent member of Xavier's backcourt. The freshman is averaging 12 points and six assists per game. Dante Jackson, a solid defender who sees a lot of minutes, rounds out the group.
Xavier will come at the undersized Marquette squad with height and strength in the front court. Jason Love, a 6'9'' senior, is averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds per game in 2009-10. Love has never been a big time scorer, but has done good work against his undersized opponents so far. He also has five blocks this season, and could pose a threat in the paint defensively. Jamel McLean, a transfer from Tulsa, is finally comfortable in Cincinnati. Averaging seven points and eight rebounds per contest, McLean is comparable to a poor man's Joey Dorsey. Kenny Frease is a highly regarded prospect with shot-blocking ability. The six-foot-eleven sophomore has put up respectable numbers, averaging 9 points and 2 blocks per game in about 19 minutes.
Marquette is a long-way away from the experience of Xavier, but has comparable talent. Fans of the Golden Eagles will have to hope that the talent meshes quickly in Orlando, where these teams meet in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic.