Florida Ranked #4, Xavier #20 in Latest ESPN Preseason Top 25

Less than four months away from tip-off of the 2019-20 college basketball season, it appears the Charleston Classic may host two Top 25 teams for the second straight year.

Florida made a huge jump from #18 to #4 in the latest ESPN.com Way-Too-Early Top 25 after adding Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. Interestingly enough, Blackshear will be back in Charleston again after helping the Hokies win the championship last year. Blackshear averaged 14 points in just 21 minutes per game in last year’s Charleston Classic.

Xavier stayed at #20, the third highest-ranked Big East team. See what ESPN’s Jeff Borzello had to say about each team below.

#4 Florida

Florida sees the biggest jump from the last time we updated the rankings, and that’s entirely due to the addition of Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. Blackshear is immediately an all-conference frontcourt player and one of the best big men in the country after averaging 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Hokies last season. He will team with sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard to form a high-level inside-outside duo. Mike White also welcomes one of the best recruiting classes in the country, led by McDonald’s All-Americans Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann, along with top-50 big man Omar Payne. This team has a very high ceiling.

#20 Xavier

It’s hard not to feel optimistic about this Xavier team. The Musketeers bring back four starters from last year’s group, including Naji Marshall — one of the most underrated players in the country. Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs and Tyrique Jones are also back. Travis Steele welcomes two key transfers in Jason Carter (Ohio) and Bryce Moore (Western Michigan). Carter averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds and should start immediately. And we haven’t even hit on Xavier’s talented recruiting class that includes five four-star prospects, led by guard KyKy Tandy. The Musketeers won six of seven to end the Big East season after starting 11-13 — we’re betting the February version of Xavier will show up next season.

The 2018 Charleston Classic championship game featured a Top 25 matchup with #16 Virginia Tech defeating #23 Purdue. The same result is possible in 2019 with Florida and Xavier occupying different sides of the bracket. However, the road won’t be easy – Florida might have to get by in-state rival Miami while Xavier could potentially matchup with future Big East foe Xavier in the Friday night semifinal.

To view the complete bracket and schedule for the 2019 Charleston Classic click here.