2021-22 record: 23-13, 8-11 in the Big East
Head coach: Sean Miller
Tenure at Xavier: 6th season (previously head coach from 2004-09)
Career coaching record: 422-156
Home court: Cintas Center
Starters: G Colby Jones, G Adam Kunkel, F Jack Nunge, F Zach Freemantle, F Jerome Hunter
Bench: G Solely Boum, G Desmond Claude, F Cesare Edwards, F Dieonte Miles
Overview: After a rough regular season last year in which the Musketeers failed to qualify for an NCAA tournament berth, Xavier bounced back in the NIT tournament. The squad from Cincinnati rolled through its competition en route to a thrilling last-second 73-32 win against Texas A&M in the NIT finals. The big question mark this year for the Musketeers will be in the head coach’s office. Sean Miller is returning to the job he previously held for 5 years after a 12-season stint at Arizona that ended with his termination following academic misconduct allegations against the program.
Xavier is bringing back 3 players who started 19 games or more, and the rest of the squad that is expected to get meaningful minutes is made up of almost entirely sophomores or older. Graduate student Jack Nunge will be looking to make a big impact again in his final year as a Musketeer after leading the team in points per game last year with 13.4. Junior guard Colby Jones, the reigning NIT most outstanding player, will also look to make his mark on the team this year. He averaged a team-high 14.8 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game during Xaviers’s NIT run last year. This is a strong team with potential, but it will come down to how effective Miller is in his return.
Team ceiling: Xavier under Miller has put together some impressive tournament runs in the past, and there is no reason that they can’t do it again. If the players keep up the kinds of performances we saw in the NIT last year and Miller is as quality a coach as when he left for Arizona, a run into the round of 32 or sweet 16 is not out of the realm of possibility.
Team floor: If Miller can’t manage the kind of magic he did during his last stint, or the Musketeers fail to keep that NIT momentum going through the start of the season, this could be a disappointing year for the Musketeers. They could be looking at an early NIT departure.
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