After a mostly down year, the Big East is poised for a rebound season. With the calendar almost set to flip to October, the college basketball season will be here before you know it. After the conference received only four bids to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, expect that to improve with seven to eight teams all having legitimate hopes of making the tournament. And looking at the Big East power rankings, it shows the conference is much deeper this season.
Power Ranking the Big East for the 2019-20 Season
10. St. John’s
In due time St. John’s will be making noise under first-year—and former Arkansas—coach Mike Anderson. However, with the Red Storm losing star guard Shamorie Ponds and Big East Defensive Player of the Year Justin Simon, it’s mostly going to be a year of transition.
Back for the Bulldogs is do-it-all guard Kamar Baldwin and his return ensures that Butler will never be an easy out. Butler uncharacteristically had an average season (16-16) last year. It should be expected they try to make amends.
After 11 consecutive losing seasons, the Blue Demons finally broke through with a winning record, while advancing to the finals of the CBI Tournament. Back is Paul Reed, who won the Big East’s Most Improved Player award, and the expectation is he takes the next step as DePaul’s go-to-player after the program saw Max Strus graduate.
Four-star freshman forward Romeo Weems, Arkansas transfer Darious Hall and Kansas transfer point guard Charlie Moore—who DePaul expects to get a waiver to play immediately—are all primed to major contributors as well.
It’s all about keeping positive momentum in Chicago. Don’t be shocked if the Demons are contending for an NCAA bid.
With the Friars bringing back Alpha Diallo (who was named to the all-Big East second team), Providence will remain in the thick of things in the Big East. Coach Ed Cooley also brings back a few promising sophomores in A.J. Reeves and David Duke, as well as adding UMass grad transfer LuWane Pipkins, so the cupboard is far from bare.
That’s a solid nucleus and Cooley will always have his squad ready for the challenge.
The Hoyas showed a tremendous amount of improvement under head coach Patrick Ewing in his second full year on the job. While Georgetown loses the services of Jessie Govan, returning will be a great sophomore class that is expected to only get better.
Of course, that sophomore trio includes reigning Big East Freshman of the Year James Akinjo, the scintillating and Twitter fan favorite Mac McClung and the criminally underrated Josh LeBlanc. Big man and N.C. State transfer Omer Yurtseven will help fill the void left by the departure of Govan.
The Hoyas clearly have all they need to contend in the Big East and make a run toward the NCAA Tournament.
The Bluejays also missed out on the NCAA Tournament after being a regular for most of the last decade, but with the team returning Ty-Shon Alexander, the hope is that Creighton will be back in the Big Dance.
Sure the premature loss of Martin Krampelj doesn’t help matters, but head coach Greg McDermott does bring back other main players in Mitch Ballock, Marcus Zegarowski, and Davion Mintz. That should be enough firepower for Creighton to be participating in the NCAA Tournament next March.
It was a bumpy ride for first-year head coach Travis Steele last year as the Musketeers missed out on making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years. The Musketeers had a rough start early but gelled as the season wore on, winning seven out of their last nine contests while settling for an NIT bid.
With Xavier returning Naji Marshall—who should contend for all-Big East first-team honors— along with Tyrique Jones, Paul Scruggs, and Quentin Goodin, Steele has an experienced core who will pick up from where they left off last year.
Obviously, losing the Hauser twins (Sam and Joey) is going to sting and a gut punch head coach Steve Wojciechowski could have done without. However, when you return the reigning Big East Player of the Year in Markus Howard, there is always a reason for optimism.
Howard can carry this team on his back if need be.
Howard is not the only weapon Wojciechowski can turn to, though, as he should expect consistent and secondary production from the likes of Theo John, Sacar Anim, and Jamal Cain. Add in contributions from key newcomers like Utah State transfer Koby McEwen and four-star freshman point guard Symir Torrence and Wojciechowski will have the requisite arsenal to contend for an NCAA bid once again.
It’s a given that under coach Jay Wright, the Wildcats will always be in the thick of the conference race. While this young club is not up to the standards of the championship-caliber clubs of years past, there is still a lot to like here with talent galore up and down the roster.
While gone are both Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, Wright still possesses a great young core including Collin Gillespie, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree. The Wildcats also welcome a top-5 recruiting class (per 247 Sports) headlined by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Bryan Antoine. There may be some growing pains early, but by March, Villanova will be poised for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
1. Seton Hall
When Myles Powell decided to return for his senior season, the Pirates got the boost they needed to claim the top spot. After making it back to the NCAA Tournament last season with a mostly young squad, expect Seton Hall to take the next step. Most of the team also returns, namely Myles Cale and Sandro Mamukelashvili.
Head coach Kevin Willard has the star power, depth and leadership to make this the best season of his tenure with the Pirates.
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