Local Basketball Teams and What the Future Holds
There are three local teams that college basketball fans should keep an eye on throughout the season – Xavier Musketeers, Cincinnati Bearcats, and the Dayton Flyers.
Xavier Musketeers: Associated Press Rank - 17th
Even though Xavier lost one of their best player, they are looking to have another great season. This year, they are set out to be even more explosive.
With Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura improving dramatically, this team is set out to be one of the few dark horses in the country. Bluiett, when asked about returning for his senior year, told The Enquier, "I just always like to look at myself as an underdog. That's how I've been most of my life – just always overlooked. That's just something that's been able to motivate me throughout my entire career."
With a sophomore point guard, Quentin Goodin, the Musketeers need to rely on their senior staff featuring Kerem Kanter and Sean O’Mara. With them both playing PF, watch out for these two Musketeers as they will be tough to handle down in the post. Another underclassmen, Kaiser Gates, would help out the bench after scoring on average, 5.8 points per game last year and 12 points per game so far in the 2 games this year.
Xavier does have a tough schedule ahead of them though. They play Baylor, Cincinnati, Villanova and Seton Hall. If they win out against these teams, Xavier should no doubt be ranked in the top 10. A very experienced team with 5 seniors on the roster, Xavier is deemed for success and will run far throughout the month of March. I see them as becoming either the 4 or 5 seed and running all the way to the Sweet 16.
Cincinnati Bearcats: Associated Press Rank - 12th
Cincinnati may need to find the leader of their team this year after senior point guard Troy Caupain left for the NBA. With the new upcoming season, the Bearcats will need to follow the footsteps of Gary Clark and Jacob Evans.
Cincinnati is loaded with talent. Having Jarron Cumberland, a sophomore who had an outstanding freshman year, and Kyle Washington as the big man in the middle, the Bearcats should be looked at very closely.
The Bearcats have a strong recruiting team and a valuable transfer on the roster this year. Junior point guard, Cane Broome, can run the show for the Bearcats. Cane Broome ranked 8th nationally in scoring two years ago with an average of 23.1 points per game at Sacred Heart
Having being ranked at #12, the Associated Press understands that Cincinnati should be able to run the table and win about 23 games this year. They play Florida, Xavier, UCLA, which is a must-watch; and St. Mary’s out-of-conference. Their toughest in-conference matchup this year is in Wichita State on Feb. 18th and Mar. 4th.
Talking about the talented Wichita State team, Head coach of the Bearcats, Mick Cronin, said, “In relation to expectations, you’d rather have them high than low. We’re used to being underrated, to be honest. You just have to embrace it and make sure that it doesn’t matter. It really has no relevance.” If they win out, which they should be able to, Cincinnati is a no-doubt top 5 team at the end of the year. I see the Bearcats becoming the 3 to the 6 seed and going to the Elite 8 but losing in the end.
Dayton Flyers: Associated Press Rank - unranked
Dayton lost 4 of their 5 starters last year with point guard Scoochie Smith, Kendall Pollard and Charles Cooke playing professionally. With a new coach, Anthony Grant, who knows what the season will be like? With only 2 seniors on the roster, the team needs to have their underclassmen step up. Players such as sophomore forward Josh Cunningham and junior forward Xyerius Williams, the Flyers may want to rely on their inside game.
The Flyers may have a star on their hands with Kostas Antentokounmpo, brother of MVP caliber, Giannis Antentokounmpo. Kostas can become the next 'Greek Freak' and draw a lot of attention to the Flyers. If Kostas is able to live up to all the hype around him, he may take college basketball by storm. Be prepared, Kostas may not be the only one, as the Flyers have many young recruits who could also help the team succeed, such as Matej Svoboda and Jalen Crutcher.
Dayton does have a tough schedule but nothing like Xavier and Cincinnati. Dayton plays Saint Mary’s, VCU twice and Rhode Island twice. The Associated Press did not have the Flyers ranked but if all goes well, the Flyers should be able to crack the top 25 at any point of the season. With the Flyers being an inexperienced team, it should be a very unpredictable season.
Sports Illustrated commented, "Things are different in Dayton. Archie Miller is at Indiana, and the Scoochie Smith era is over. It won't be terrible—Xeyrius Williams and Josh Cunningham are good up front, and the arrival of Antetokounmpo should make for appointment viewing. We're just not sure about the backcourt, especially after the Flyers were spoiled by Smith for so long". With inexperience, the Flyers may not even make the tournament. If they do, I see them being a 11-13 seed and making it to either the first or second round, but not any further.