With the start of November comes the return of women’s collegiate basketball.
Big East teams saw remarkable success in the previous season, as the conference sent five teams to the NCAA tournament in March. That marks the most Big East entries into the tournament since the 2013 conference realignment. Additionally, Big East powerhouses UConn and Creighton are ranked No. 2 and No. 22 respectively in the preseason AP National Poll.
While UConn is in a strong position to retain the Big East Championship, the rest of the conference features an exciting mix of teams with lots of potential and lots of question marks.
- University of Connecticut Huskies
Head Coach Geno Auriemma’s UConn remains at the top of the Big East after an incredible run the past few seasons, including a conference title in 2023 despite notable injuries to 2021 National Player of the Year guard Paige Bueckers and highly anticipated forward recruit Ice Brady. With Bueckers, Brady and several others fully healthy for the new season, the Huskies hope to add to their previous winning ways. UConn received 10-of-11 first-place votes among Big East coaches, but the sky is the limit — expect the Huskies to retain their Big East title while making a serious challenge for the national championship.
- Creighton Bluejays
After finishing third in the Big East regular season with a 15-5 conference record last season, Creighton will be eager to make up for a disappointing first-round NCAA tournament loss to Mississippi State. What’s the good news? Most of Creighton’s best players are returning, including its top four scorers in guard Lauren Jensen, guard/forward Morgan Maly, forward Emma Ronsiek and guard Molly Mogensen. The Bluejays will be hoping that their experienced roster has learned important lessons from last year. While Creighton likely lacks the firepower to keep up with UConn, the Bluejays are a strong candidate to reach the NCAA tournament for a third year in a row.
- Villanova University Wildcats
Villanova is coming off of one of the best seasons in program history, finishing second in the Big East and advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years. While the Wildcats will miss Maddy Siegrist, who was taken third overall in the WNBA following a nation-best 29.2 points per game season, Villanova will retain veteran talents such as U.S. 3×3 internationals guard Lucy Olsen and forward Christina Dalce. Expect a dropoff in Villanova’s performance this season, but the team still has high upside and is a formidable presence in the Big East.
- Marquette Golden Eagles
Under Head Coach Megan Duffy, the Marquette Golden Eagles have been a model of consistency, averaging 22 wins over her four seasons with two tournament berths to boot. After the graduation of top rebounder Chloe Marotta, Marquette will look to unanimous preseason all-Big East guard Jordan King and graduate transfer guard/forward and 2023 Patriot League Player of the Year Frannie Hottinger to fill the void. For the Golden Eagles to take a leap and challenge the conference heavyweights, they will need some of their newer editions, such as Lehigh graduate transfer Frannie Hottinger to step up and contribute.
- Seton Hall Pirates
Although Seton Hall only reached the WNIT last year after a 10-10 record in Big East play, there is a lot of excitement around the program right now. The Pirates lost a trio of starters over the offseason but return an experienced group anchored by forward Azana Baines, and center A’Jah Davis and guard Micah Gray look to live up to the hype as impact transfers this season. While an NCAA Tournament berth is likely an unrealistic expectation this season, there is no doubt that Seton Hall is a program on the up.
- Butler Bulldogs
Last season, Butler saw impressive improvement under first-year Head Coach Austin Parkinson, finishing ninth in the Big East and notching 10 more wins than the year prior. Coming into 2023, the Bulldogs have kept two of their three top scorers from last season: forward Sydney Jaynes and guard/forward Anna Mortag, but also need to replace significant production from Rachel McLimore and Big East all-Freshman Jessica Carrothers. We still expect to see a pretty similar performance from Butler this season if Parkinson can continue his success with the Bulldogs.
- St. John’s Red Storm
St. John’s had a remarkable season last year, surpassing preseason expectations with a fourth-place finish in the Big East and an impressive late-season win over the dominant Huskies. However, the Red Storm lost four of their 2023 starters and will have a tough time replacing most of their team’s core. Aside from forward Jillian Archer, last season’s Big East Sixth Woman of the Year, and guard Unique Drake, all of the notable pieces from last season’s campaign will need to be replaced, and we expect to see a dropoff in the team’s performance.
- Providence Friars
This offseason, Providence brought in a new head coach, Erin Batth, to turn the program around after posting a 13-19 record last season. The Friars have four returning starters, led by forward Olivia Olsen and many within the program are excited about Lithuanian import forward Ugne Sirtautaite, who has experience on the international circuit. For the Friars, this year looks to be one for rebuilding.
- DePaul Blue Demons
After an underwhelming 2022-23 campaign ended with a dramatic near-upset of Villanova, the DePaul Blue Demons will have a new look following the departure of their top three scorers and star Aneesah Morrow. The results will likely be the same or worse as last season’s 16-17 overall record, though, as the Blue Demons lack enough depth behind guard Anaya Peoples and forward Jorie Allen to be truly competitive. A falloff in DePaul’s performance is likely, as they look to rebuild most of their team with young talent.
- Georgetown Hoyas
Following the tragic passing of Head Coach Tasha Butts, former Jacksonville University Head Coach Darnell Haney will step in to lead the Hoyas this season. Georgetown’s leading scorer from last season, preseason all-Big East senior guard Kelsey Ransom, will anchor the team alongside a solid forward core in graduate Graceann Bennett, senior Jada Claude and junior Brianna Scott. Despite a tough loss to UConn to end the season, an impressive victory over Butler bodes well for the Hoyas. The Hoyas may see a similar season this year under Haney as they look to retool for the future.
- Xavier Musketeers
Xavier cleaned house after a tough 2022-23 season, capped off by an 0-20 Big East record. The Musketeers brought in new Head Coach Billi Chambers to steady the ship, but it is hard to imagine that Xavier fares significantly better this season than they did in the last.