Xavier has only missed the NCAA tournament once since 2000, but the Musketeers could struggle to get back to the Big Dance this season.
They suffered a major loss on Tuesday, when the school announced that Dezmine Wells was expelled from the university for violating the Code of Student Conduct.
Sources told CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman that his violation was related to a sexual incident. Wells was not charged with a crime, but the school made the decision to expel him.
“We must reiterate that first and foremost Xavier's interest and responsibility to all of our students is to provide a quality education in a safe and nurturing environment,” the school said in a press release. “A serious violation of Xavier's Code of Student Conduct will not be tolerated.”
Wells was the top returnee for Xavier, which had already lost four starters from last season's Sweet 16 team. Tu Holloway, Kenny Frease and Andre Walker used up their eligibility, while guard Mark Lyons transferred to Arizona.
Without Wells, coach Chris Mack will rely heavily on newcomers and inexperienced returnees. Freshman Semaj Christon should step in immediately, while Towson transfer Isaiah Philmore is also productive. Forwards Travis Taylor, Jeff Robinson and Justin Martin are now the top returning players; those three combined to average 11.0 points and 9.1 rebounds.