With Villanova and Xavier leading the way, Big East retains power conference status
The new-look Big East enjoyed a banner season in 2015-16, proving the reconfigured conference will be able to hang with its football-focused brethren.
Villanova claimed the national championship, but that was only part of the story for the Big East. Xavier spent most of the season ranked in the top 10. Seton Hall surged late in the year to claim the Big East tournament title. And Providence had two of the must-see players of the year in Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Butler had a solid season itself, giving the Big East five NCAA Tournament teams.
Perhaps a better sign is that the Big East did this without several of its more traditionally consistent programs — Georgetown, Creighton and Marquette — having great seasons.
The Big East might not match the heights of 2016 with key pieces from Providence and Seton Hall gone, but Villanova and Xavier should remain threats to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
All Big East predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2016-17 Preview Magazine, available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere.
|2016-17 Big East Predictions|
Villanova: The defending national champions lose Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, but Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins are back. Jalen Brunson is ready to take the next step.
Xavier: Chris Mack’s Musketeers will once again push for the top 10 nationally, with Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett leading the way. J.P. Macura is poised for a breakout season.
Creighton: The Bluejays haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since Doug McDermott was in town, but the drought should end. Maurice Watson Jr. and Marcus Foster are a high-level backcourt.
Seton Hall: Despite the loss of Isaiah Whitehead, Kevin Willard has the Pirates on the upswing. Khadeen Carrington is ready to become a household name outside the league.
Marquette: Henry Ellenson is off to the NBA, but the Golden Eagles bring back four starters and add transfers Katin Reinhardt and Andrew Rowsey and talented frosh Markus Howard.
Butler: What is life like without Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham? Expect the offense to revolve around Kelan Martin and transfers Kethan Savage and Avery Woodson.
Georgetown: After a disappointing campaign that saw the Hoyas finish below .500, John Thompson III enters a key season. Can Georgetown mesh all its talented pieces together?
Providence: Ed Cooley is now in charge of a program without All-American Kris Dunn and draft pick Ben Bentil. Who replaces the stars? Rodney Bullock will shoulder the load.
St. John’s: Chris Mullin won only one Big East game in his first season, but the Red Storm welcome a host of newcomers, led by Shamorie Ponds, Bashir Ahmed and Marcus LoVett.
DePaul: The Blue Demons have finished at the bottom of the standings in six of the last eight seasons — and Dave Leitao could have a tough time moving up this season.
Big East Superlatives
Player of the Year: Josh Hart, Villanova
Best Defensive Player: Kossoum Yakwe, St. John’s
Most Underrated Player: Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall
Newcomer of the Year: Marcus Foster, Creighton
First-Team All-Big East
G Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
G Edmond Sumner, Xavier
G Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton
G/F Josh Hart, Villanova
F Kris Jenkins, Villanova
Second-Team All-Big East
G Marcus Foster, Creighton
G Jalen Brunson, Villanova
G Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
F Kelan Martin, Butler
F Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
Third-Team All-Big East
G Myles Davis, Xavier
F Rodney Bullock, Providence
F Cole Huff, Creighton
F Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall
C Luke Fischer, Marquette
1. Villanova: The 2016 national champions bring in two of the country’s best centers in five-star Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter. Both will play right away.
2. Marquette: An impressive freshman class, led by four-star power forward Brendan Bailey, should have Marquette fans excited about the future.
3. St. John’s: Chris Mullin landed one of the best ball handlers in the country — and New York’s best point guard — in Shamorie Ponds. The talent level is on the rise in Queens.
4. Xavier: If four-star Quentin Goodin can develop a shot off the dribble, he can become one of the conference’s best point guards.
5. Butler: Four-star Joey Brunk isn’t super athletic, but he’s got impeccable court IQ and should be a big upgrade for the Bulldogs.
6. DePaul: The Blue Demons continue to recruit and retain Midwest talent with a group of three-star recruits, led by guards Devin Cage and Brandon Cyrus.
7. Providence: The Friars lost their tandem of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but Maliek White and Kalif Young could be their replacements in the long run.
8. Seton Hall: The confidence of Myles Powell, New Jersey’s top shooting guard recruit, could help lift Seton Hall to another successful season.
9. Creighton: Four-star point guard Kobe Paras — originally headed to UCLA before being denied admission — signed with Creighton in July.
10. Georgetown: Lone Georgetown commit and three-star shooting guard Jagan Mosely is a human highlight reel who runs the court well.