As is tradition the past few years, the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll picked the Georgetown University men’s basketball team to finish near the bottom of the conference. For the second straight season, the Hoyas are projected to finish as No. 10 in the conference, beating out DePaul University to avoid the last spot.
We assessed the conference on our own and though Georgetown will likely dwell toward the bottom of the Big East, the season does have potential.
1. Creighton University
Despite losing two starters, this young up-and-coming squad, led by Head Coach Greg McDermott, is projected to be at the top of the Big East, a group with realistic Final Four aspirations that has the chance to make some noise on the national stage.
After losing in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 to Kansas last year, Creighton’s headline transfer addition of sharpshooting guard Baylor Scheierman from South Dakota State along with dynamic sixth-man guard Francisco Farabello from TCU will look to bolster last year’s already deep lineup. They will join a dynamic backcourt of sophomores Ryan Nembhard and Trey Alexander, as well as one of the best frontcourts in the nation with Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Kalkbrenner.
2. Villanova University
After years of Big East domination and sustained national success, Villanova is entering a transition phase after the shocking retirement of longtime Head Coach Jay Wright. Villanova also lost longtime point guard Collin Gillespie, while its best remaining player, guard Justin Moore, was injured in its Elite Eight win against University of Houston.
Villanova will look to its returning upperclassmen as well as two notable first-year additions in the starting lineup, five-star recruit Cam Whitmore and Mark Armstrong, to replace that production. In addition, they will welcome back Kyle Neptune, a former Villanova assistant coach, after coaching at Fordham University to guide this young but talented squad with the hopes of repeating its Final Four run from last year.
3. Xavier University
After starting hot but ultimately missing the NCAA Tournament the past two years, Xavier will hope to break that streak this year under new Head Coach Sean Miller, who was hired after the Xavier Musketeers won the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) last year. They will have roster continuity on their side, as well as promising transfer Souley Boum, an adept scorer who averaged 18 points per game at UTEP. Xavier’s frontcourt, one of the best in the country, was reunited after Zach Freemantle’s suspension was lifted. With a talented and deep roster, Xavier is poised for a national breakout year.
4. University of Connecticut
Perennial powerhouse University of Connecticut looks to make its third straight NCAA Tournament this season behind junior forward Adama Sanogo. After a first-team all-Big East season a year ago, Sanogo figures to be a strong contender for Big East Player of the Year as the UConn Huskies’ clear leader after the departure of UConn’s backcourt for the NBA. While a slight degree below the likes of the Villanova Wildcats and Creighton Bluejays, UConn figures to be a formidable opponent for anyone.
5. Providence College
Last year was a dream Cinderella run for the Providence Friars, finishing with the best record in the Big East in a dominant regular season and advancing to the Sweet 16. That magical team is gone, however, as only three players are returning. They will have to depend on their strong transfer class, led by University of Kentucky forward Bryce Hopkins, and incoming first-year recruits to bolster the rotation and forge a new identity. This group will experience growing pains, and under Head Coach Ed Cooley, they are unlikely to repeat the unexpected success they found last season. After last year’s run, however, they proved that anything is possible.
6. St. John’s University
Losing two-time first-team all-Big East guard Julian Champagnie will force St. John’s to remake its identity this season. Champagnie was the St. John’s Red Storm’s leading scorer and rebounder, meaning other players will have to make up for his offensive and defensive production. Defensive savant guard Posh Alexander figures to take the leader’s mantle for a St. John’s team that looks to be good but not great, barring a breakout.
7. Seton Hall University
New Head Coach Shaheen Holloway returns to his alma mater after coaching Saint Peter’s University to an unexpected run into the Elite Eight in March. Only five members of his predecessor’s roster remain on the team, but none of them was a star nor a benchwarmer. Such is the story of Seton Hall’s roster — a lot of decent players but no one is exceptional. Seton Hall figures to be competitive, but don’t expect them to make a huge splash in what figures to be a rebuilding year.
8. Georgetown University
After becoming just the third team in Big East history to go winless in conference play, Georgetown tore its roster apart but maintained faith in Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85). Ewing managed to bring in the fourth-best transfer class in the country, featuring a familiar face in senior center Qudus Wahab and last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year, guard Brandon Murray. With little continuity, the Hoyas’ success is difficult to forecast and the team could finish just about anywhere in the conference in what will likely be a make-or-break year in Ewing’s tenure.
9. Butler University
Under a new but familiar face in Head Coach Thad Matta, the Butler Bulldogs will rely on their transfer class to make up for the loss of several longtime Butler players. After barely losing to Providence in the second round of last year’s Big East Tournament, they will look to the renewed depth of their new roster and North Carolina State transfer center Manny Bates to try and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018.
10. Marquette University
In his first season at Marquette, Head Coach Shaka Smart proved his worth, leading the Marquette Golden Eagles to a No. 6 Big East finish despite a subpar roster. After losing first-team all-Big East selection Justin Lewis to the NBA, Smart will need to work some magic with this mangled roster to succeed. Given the lack of scoring, they will need an unexpected star to break out to escape the bottom of the Big East.
11. DePaul University
The loss of their two leading scorers puts the DePaul Blue Demons, who struggled last season, in a precarious position this year. Without any headline transfers or recruits, it seems unlikely for DePaul to improve on its performance. While center Nick Ongenda and guard Jalen Terry remain, DePaul may find itself at the bottom of the conference this year.