DePaul University has been a dominant force in the Big East for the last couple of years, winning the conference championship in four of the last six seasons, including each of the past two. The Blue Demons were just one game away from first place in the Big East last year, finishing with a record of 14-4. DePaul is bringing back its best player, forward Chante Stonewall, who was the Big East Tournament MVP last year and averaged 14.3 points per game. DePaul was unanimously voted in a Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll as the favorite to win the conference this year. It will be a tough challenge for the rest of the conference to stop them from winning a third consecutive conference championship.
2. St. John’s
After qualifying for the national tournament five years in a row, St. John’s University had a down year last season. The Red Storm finished in second-to-last place in the Big East in 2018-19 with a record of 7-11. St. John’s is returning three of its starters, including star point guard Tiana England. England led the Big East in assists last year and was featured on the Nancy Lieberman Award Preseason Watch List for the best point guard in the country. England could lead the Red Storm back into the competition for the top spot in the Big East.
3. Seton Hall
Seton Hall University rounds out a projected top-heavy conference, with the Pirates joining the Red Storm and Blue Demons with substantial playoff aspirations given their performance last year, returning core and incoming players who should make an immediate impact. The Pirates are led by the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, forward Shadeen Samuels. Samuels was the Big East scoring champion last year with 18.3 ppg. Seton Hall is also returning seven letter winners and will lean on their experience this season.
Providence College finished in sixth place in the Big East last year but showed a lot of promise by staying in close games against stronger and more experienced teams. The Friars earned their first postseason bid since 2010, making it all the way to the Round of 16 in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament last March. Forward Mary Baskerville should be a difference-maker, with these expectations deriving from her freshman year in which she won Big East Freshman of the Year. Providence will be returning four starters from last year; this continuity should result in a better season this year.
Finishing in fourth place in the Big East last year, Villanova University is returning two of its starters and five lettermen this year. Villanova shot the ball incredibly well from long range last year, converting three pointers at a strong 35% clip as a team. Forward Mary Gedaka led the way for the Wildcats last season and should continue to do so this year, after leading the team in scoring with 14.4 ppg at an incredible 66.1% shooting. Without the star power of the top three teams whose leading scorers shot with higher volume on their way to more points per game, it will be tough for Villanova to move any further up in the standings despite their veteran leadership.
Butler University has seen a lot of turnover from last year, losing three of its starters but retaining last year’s Big East Coach of the Year, Kurt Godlevske. Looking at the roster, Godlevske brings back his second-highest scorer in guard Kristen Spolyar. The Bulldogs will try to emulate their strong start from last year when they began the season 15-1. Butler repeating their third-place performance in the Big East seems unlikely, but good coaching should keep them afloat.
Tying with Providence for sixth place in the Big East last year, Creighton University will look to move up in the standings. However, the Bluejays will have a tough time replacing forward Audrey Faber, who graduated last spring; Faber earned All-Big East First Team honors last season, averaging 16.4 ppg. There are few ways for Creighton to improve in the standings after losing such a key player, as well as two other reliable contributors from the starting lineup.
Xavier University finished at the bottom of the Big East last year with a record of 2-16. This mark fell significantly below the ninth-place teams, Seton Hall and St. John’s, which both finished 7-11. Xavier has made some changes since last season, starting by hiring Coach Melanie Moore to strive to make the Musketeers competitive again. Forward A’riana Gray will try to lead Xavier forward, as she was named to the Preseason All-Big East team after leading the Big East in rebounding last season. While the rest of the conference’s coaches see potential in Gray after that nomination, there is minimal optimism for the rest of the team
The Hoyas lost four starters this summer, including guard Dionna White, who finished her college career third all-time in the Big East for steals. Last year, Georgetown University tied Villanova for fourth place in the standings with a record of 9-9. After losing its best players, Georgetown is unlikely to maintain a similar level of success this year. Expectations are low for the Hoyas, who were picked to finish in tenth place in the coaches’ preseason poll. With the leadership of Coach James Howard, however, the Hoyas will work to silence their doubters.
Since finishing in first place in the Big East last year with a record of 15-3, Marquette University has seen a lot of turnover. Starting at the top, Coach Carolyn Kieger left for Penn State University, but newly hired Coach Megan Duffy will try to have similar success. A repeat performance will be a Herculean task for Duffy, as Marquette has lost all five of its starters, including two All-Americans. This year looks like it is going to a season of rebuilding for Marquette without an impressive recruiting class, giving the team few reasons for optimism at a second-straight year of Big East contention.