2017-18 record: 29-6, 15-3 in the Big East
Head coach: Travis Steele
Tenure at Xavier: 1st season
Career coaching record: 0-0
Home court: Cintas Center
Starters: G Quentin Goodin, G Paul Scruggs, F Tyrique Jones, F Ryan Welage, F Naji Marshall
Bench: G Elias Harden, G Kyle Castlin, G Keonte Kennedy, F Zach Hankins, F Dontarius James
Overview: Xavier entered the 2018 NCAA tournament as the at-large No. 1 seed in the West Region after an impressive 29-win season. The Musketeers posted a lackluster performance at the Big Dance, as they were eliminated by Florida State in the second round. In the offseason, nine-year head coach Chris Mack was hired by Louisville and assistant head coach Travis Steele was promoted to replace Mack. Steele’s newly-assembled coaching staff and an influx of transfers promises a fresh-look Xavier team for the 2018-19 season.
Returning starters Quentin Goodin, Tyrique Jones and Naji Marshall will likely be joined by sophomore Paul Scruggs and graduate transfer Ryan Welage to round out the starting five. The Musketeers must replace last season’s top-scorers Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura. Potential breakout star Welage, who averaged 18.1 points per game for San Jose State in 2018, could fill the void. Graduate transfers Kyle Castlin and Zach Hankins will provide experience for a newcomer-heavy Xavier bench.
Despite the loss of their head coach and leading scorers, the Musketeers have enough returning starters and talented incomers to maintain their consistent performance. Marshall has the upside to be named All-Conference and Welage is a dark horse to lead the team in scoring. If Xavier’s new roster learns to play together quickly, the Musketeers are in position to contend in the Big East and qualify for the NCAA Tournament for a sixth consecutive year.
One thing that needs to go right: Naji Marshall has a breakout season and the transfers produce. Xavier remains an upper-half Big East team and competes at the NCAA tournament.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
One thing that could go wrong: Steele struggles at the helm and the team does not jell. Xavier falters and misses the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.