2018-19 Big East Preseason Rankings

With the losses suffered by defending national champion Villanova to the NBA draft, the Big East looks a little more interesting this year. The losses are also heavy for conference heavyweights Seton Hall and Xavier, making room for the resurgence of some once proud programs. A Chris Mullin led St. John’s team and a Patrick Ewing led Georgetown team contending for the Big East crown would be a great story for the conference, and is not out of the question this season. Will the potential shift in power ultimately help or hurt the league when selection Sunday rolls around? Read below to find out where I think each team will finish in the standings and end up in the postseason.

10. Creighton

The Blue Jays will take a significant step back this year with the loss of star guards Khyri Thomas and Marcus Foster. Stretch four Martin Krampelj is back, and he gets some help down low with highly touted freshman Sam Froling coming in to form a formidable Blue Jay frontcourt. Rice grad transfer Connor Cashaw joins the program as well, and his scoring (16 ppg) on the wing will be much needed. However, the losses at guard are too heavy for this team to return to the NCAA tournament in 2019.

Postseason Projection: none

9. DePaul

Entering year four of his tenure, head coach Dave Leitao appears to have the Blue Demons heading in the right direction. While they look to be a year away from becoming a tournament contender, his squad will still be competitive this season. Senior guards Max Strus (17 pts) and Eli Cain (12 pts, 5a) lead the way and will be a handful to defend for any team. They also add in a couple transfers in guard Jalen Coleman-Lads (Illinois) and forward Fami Olujobi (NCA&T) who should both step in and start right away. The depth and frontcourt talent aren’t quite there yet, but this team won’t be a pushover and should improve on last year’s 11 win season.

 

Postseason Projection: none

8. Seton Hall

The losses this offseason were very heavy for the Pirates, as their stellar senior class of Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado, and Khadeen Carrington all graduated. Star guard Myles Powell is back and will have to take on a bigger role, but he will get some help from Sacred Heart transfer Quincy McKnight, who was starred for the Pioneers two years ago and got the chance to learn the system while sitting out last year. Syracuse transfer center Taurean Thompson also steps in after sitting out last season and while he is talented, he won’t be able to make up for Delgado’s production alone and will need some other guys to step up.

 

Postseason Projection: none

7. Providence

The Friars are a very young team but have some talent and will be an interesting squad to watch this season. They get back forward Emmitt Holt, who was the second leading scorer in 2017 but missed all of last season with an injury. They also bring in four star freshman point guard David Duke, who’s impressed early and may make Friars fans forget about Kyron Cartwright quickly. These two will team up with the best returning player from last year, athletic wing Alpha Diallo, to form a solid core that could be one of the Big East’s best. If all three play to their potential, stay healthy, and get some consistent help from the role players, a return to the NCAA tournament is certainly possible.

Postseason Projection: NIT

6. Butler

Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman’s contributions to this team will be sorely missed, but the rest of last year’s Butler squad is intact and the Bulldogs will remain competitive. Paul Jorgensen and Kamar Baldwin provide a stable, experienced backcourt and are complimented nicely on the wing by sharpshooter Sean McDermott. The question marks on this team are in the post, where senior Nate Fowler will need to step his game up and freshman Bryce Golden will be forced into a big role right away. Bulldogs fans should prepare for a stressful February and March, as this team will be right on the bubble come selection Sunday.

Postseason Projection: NIT (NCAA next four out)

5. Georgetown

I’m very excited to see how the Hoyas perform this season. Patrick Ewing has done a nice job of putting together a talented squad, now his challenge is to get his team to perform more consistently than they did in his first year. Senior Jessie Govan (18 pts 10 reb) is one of the nation’s best centers and along with sophomore forward Jamario Pickett, who had a stellar freshman season, give the Hoyas the best frontcourt in the conference. Their backcourt is a bit unproven, but they have options. The most intriguing of those options are sophomore Jahvon Blair, who showed promise as a freshman, and high-flying freshman Mac McClung, who broke Allen Iverson’s Virginia high school scoring record and has gone viral with his insane leaping ability. While they will be competitive and likely record some nice wins, I think the Hoyas will just miss out on the tournament.

Postseason Projection: NIT (NCAA first four out)

4. Xavier

Few teams in college basketball lost as much as Xavier this offseason. Not only are the top three scorers from last season all gone, but head coach Chris Mack left as well to take the Louisville job. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Musketeer fans as former assistant Travis Steele was promoted to head coach and has already done well on the recruiting trail and while also putting together a competitive squad for this season. Three talented senior transfers, big men Ryan Welage (San Jose St.) and Zach Hankins (Ferris St.), and guard Kyle Castlin (Columbia), will step in and play key roles right away. If they can mesh quickly with Quentin Goodin, Naji Marshall, and and Paul Scruggs, then Xavier’s step back this year won’t be as big as people expect. Yet another Big East team that appears to be destined for the bubble life, I have Xavier as the first team out of the NCAA tournament.

Postseason Projection: NIT (NCAA first four out)

3. St. John’s

Excitement is building for the Johnnies this season, as Chris Mullin should have his best team here to date. While the team Mullin was preparing to field was already very talented, he got great news a few weeks ago when Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play immediately. Heron is a stud on the wing who led the SEC regular season champion Auburn team in scoring last year. He joins star point guard Shamorie Ponds (22 pts, 5a) and wing Justin Simon (12 pts, 5a), giving St. John’s an embarrassment of riches in the backcourt. South Carolina transfer Sedee Keita steps in to help junior Marvin Clark carry the load down low in what should be a much improved frontcourt. This team has the talent to win, as evidenced with upsets of Duke and Villanova last season, and now boasts much better depth. If Mullin and his staff can keep these guys focused and playing well everyday, they’ll be in a good position to make some noise in March.

Postseason Projection: 8 seed

2. Marquette

Steve Wojciechowski’s squad was so much fun to watch last year with explosive scorers Markus Howard and Andrew Rousey filling it up on a nightly basis. Rousey is gone, but Howard remains and gets some immediate help in Fordham grad transfer Joseph Chartouny. Chartouny is a crafty, do-it-all point guard who will be a great compliment to Howard’s scoring brilliance. Junior stretch-four Sam Hauser (14 ppg) is an excellent shooter, and he’ll be a great mentor for his brother, four-star freshman Joey, who has a chance to give the eagles a lift off the bench right away. We know this team will have no trouble scoring, but they must improve defensively to ensure they’re on the right side of the bubble this season.

Postseason Projection: 6 seed

1. Villanova

The defending national champs got hit hard at the draft deadline last spring, losing their best four players to the NBA. However, Jay Wright has brought this program to a level where rebuilding is not an issue, they just reload. This year’s reloading includes four big time freshman as well as star Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo. Cremo and five-star guard Jahvon Quinerly join senior Phil Booth in a backcourt that won’t take a very big step back from last season. The frontcourt won’t be too shabby either, as senior Eric Paschall is one of the best bigs in the country and will shine as the go-to guy this year. Freshman forward Cole Swider is an impressive talent and will be a great compliment to Paschall. This team might take a little while to get going, but they will get better every week and should be looking like a final four contender in March.

Postseason projection: 3 seed

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