It’s November, and NCAA women’s collegiate basketball is finally afoot.
In the Big East, teams hope the new season brings as much success as the last. Five teams are coming off NCAA Tournament appearances and three more are fresh off WNIT appearances. Moreover, two teams are ranked in the AP National Poll: No. 6 University of Connecticut and No. 21 Creighton University.
In the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, reigning Big East Champions and national runner-up UConn was named the unanimous Big East preseason favorite. The narrative this year is about whether other contenders will stand a chance against the Huskies. Villanova could step up to disrupt the UConn dynasty; Creighton may recapture the magic of its tournament run.
Although the No. 1 spot in the conference is not exactly up for grabs, the rest of the conference should be contentious. With that in mind, here are The Hoya’s Women’s Basketball Big East Power Rankings.
- Connecticut Huskies
The standard bearer for women’s collegiate basketball, UConn’s 2021-22 season ended in their 14th straight Final Four appearance and 12th title game.
Paige Bueckers, their star point guard, is out for the season with a torn ACL, but that should not hinder UConn’s dominance thanks to their deep roster. Along with a trio of returning starters, UConn also welcomes back Preseason All-Big East honorees Caroline Ducharme and Aaliyah Edwards. The nation’s No. 4 recruiting class, which features top-five recruits Ayanna Patterson and Ice Brady, will help bolster the already skilled squad.
The Huskies commanded the Big East last season and they should be able to repeat that dominance.
- Villanova University Wildcats
After the Wildcats finished their regular season with the second-best Big East record last year, they went on to tally a second-place finish in the Big East tournament and a round-of-32 defeat in the NCAA tournament. While the program had a solid season, they now hope to challenge UConn at the top of the conference rather than play for second.
Featuring a lineup that returns a trio of starters, including the reigning Big East Player of the Year Maddy Siegrist, the Wildcats have the best chance of any team in the conference to unseat the Huskies, though we predict they finish just short.
- Creighton Bluejays
After their Cinderella run in the 2021-22 season, the Creighton Bluejays were last season’s March Madness darling. The question this year will be whether they can continue this momentum.
Hoping to improve on a 15-5 record in Big East play, the Bluejays are returning four starters and 84% of their scoring from last year. This unit comprises All-Big East First Team forward Emma Ronsiek, Big East Sixth-Woman of the Year Morgan Maly and Big East Most Improved Player Lauren Jensen. Brittany Harshaw, a McDonald’s All-American nominee, hopes to make waves as the Bluejays’ new addition.
- DePaul University Blue Demons
DePaul was one of four Big East teams to make the NCAA tournament last year but was the only one that left without a win. However, the Blue Demons only return two of their starters from last year, one of whom is the reigning National Freshman of the Year Aneesah Morrow. A rebounding and scoring machine, Morrow’s ability should keep DePaul in the top half of the conference all season.
This will also be Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Head Coach Doug Bruno’s 36th season with the Blue Demons, and he doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
- Seton Hall University Pirates
Despite a mediocre 12-8 Big East record, Seton Hall finished the year by winning 16 of its last 19 games. But advancing to the championship game of the WNIT is not enough for the Pirates, as they seek to return to premium billing in March under Head Coach Tony Bozzella, who has qualified for the NCAA tournament in six of his nine years with the school.
Five players from last season return. All-Big East First Team Lauren Park-Lane will be the standout this year, as she already holds the conference single-game record for assists (18).
- Marquette University Golden Eagles
Marquette returns three starters from a squad that advanced to the third round of the WNIT last year. The Golden Eagles finished fifth in conference play and had a surprise upset of DePaul in the Big East tournament. However, they lost their two leading scorers in the offseason. Xavier University transfer Nia Clark should help lighten the load for Head Coach Megan Duffy, and Marquette could be a competitive team.
- St. John’s University Red Storm
Ranking St. John’s No. 7 in the conference is perhaps a modest take, as the team will be dramatically improved by the four transfers they received in the offseason. The Red Storm return five of their top-six scorers from last year, a season where they went 12-19 with a Big East record of 7-12. The leaders of the team will be Kadaja Bailey, who averaged 14.2 points per game, and leading rebounder Rayven Peeples. Transfers like Ole Miss transfer Mimi Reid and Georgetown transfer Jillian Archer should also help St. John’s improve its record this season.
- Georgetown Hoyas
Despite going 10-19 overall and only 4-15 in Big East play last season, Georgetown’s team was characterized by resiliency and teamwork. They finished their season on a hopeful note with an upset in the first round of the conference tournament. This year, the Hoyas return a trio of starters, including No. 2 scorer Kelsey Ransom and forward Graceann Bennett. They are also reinforced by two transfers, Duke’s Jada Claude and Florida’s Kristina Moore, who should help the Hoyas continue to improve.
- Providence Friars
The Friars return Janai Crooms, the leading scorer from last year’s team. Also, Head Coach Jim Crowley was able to secure several transfers including Iowa’s Logan Cook, who should have an immediate impact. Alas, the program has not made it to the NCAA tournament since 1992, and Crowley’s last winning season with the program came in 2018-19. There is little excitement surrounding the team.
- Xavier Musketeers
Xavier had a somewhat underwhelming 2021-22 year, going 9-21 overall and 4-16 in Big East play. This season will be a rebuilding one, as they are only returning two starters from the team: No. 3 scorer Aanya Harris and Shaila Beeler. The key to their success will be the energy that new players, such as Ole Miss transfer Taylor Smith and Kent State’s Nila Blackford, bring to the court.
- Butler Bulldogs
Butler finished last year without a single Big East win, and their only win of the regular season came against the Evansville Aces on Dec. 22, 2021. Butler jettisoned Head Coach Kurt Godlevske and his entire staff this past offseason, and Head Coach Austin Parkinson has his work cut out for him in revitalizing this program. Parkinson added two quality transfers, including Rachel McLimore, but the Bulldogs will surely be outmatched in Big East games this season.