CINCINNATI — The Xavier Musketeers are ranked 19th in the men’s Associated Press preseason basketball Top 25 released Monday, while the Cincinnati Bearcats are on the outside looking in.
UC received a handful of points that placed them 38th in the voting by sports media.
Michigan State was the overwhelming No. 1 choice with 60 of 65 first-place votes, followed by Kentucky, Kansas and Duke. Louisville is No. 5 and Ohio State No. 18.
Xavier returns its top four scorers from last year’s 19-16 team: Naji Marshall (14.7 ppg), Paul Scruggs (12.3), Tyrique Jones (11.3) and Quentin Goodin (11.0). Jones was the top rebounder at 7.7 per game followed by Marshall at 7.2.
Big East coaches picked Xavier to finish third in the conference this season behind Seton Hall and Villanova. Villanova made the AP Top 25 at No. 10 with Seton Hall at No. 12.
Former Northern Kentucky coach John Brannen took over the UC program after Mick Cronin left for UCLA. The Bearcats (28-7 last season) return Jarron Cumberland, the American Athletic Conference player of the year. Cumberland averaged 18.8 points and is the league’s top returning scorer.
UC, which won the AAC Tournament last year, was picked to finish third in the AAC this season behind Houston and Memphis. Memphis is 14th in the AP poll.
Xavier opens its 2019-20 schedule Nov. 5 against Jacksonville, following an exhibition against Indianapolis on Oct. 30.
UC opens its regular season at Ohio State Nov. 6 following an exhibition with Thomas More on Oct. 31.
UCLA did not get any votes in the poll.