Before I get into my season outlook, I would like to have a moment of silence for former Villanova coach and Big East legend, Rollie Massimino
Now listen, nothing gets my piss hot like Big East Basketball. Nothing. The tradition, the Garden, and the hard nose style that separates us from those bums in the Pac-12.
It is exhilarating.
This article is going to be littered with hot takes, but let me get this pretty obvious take out of the way to ease you guys into it:
The Big East is the best conference, top to bottom, in the country. That’s right, the best in the entire US of Freaking A. Get that weak ass ACC shit out of my face. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time talking about how the Big East is better than the ACC, so just look back at your bracket from last March and see how badly you got burned by those bums.
The crazy thing is, the Big East got 7/10 teams into the dance last year is only getting better. Teams are consistently landing top 50 recruits and the bottom half of the league is improving very fast.
No surprise here. Yes, they are losing Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, but this team is better than they were a year ago. Not only are they bringing back legit first round talent in Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, they are bringing in a guy named Omari Spellman. Jot that name down in your notebooks and thank me in March when Villanova is in the Final Four and you had them there because of this blog. Villanova rarely has good big men. When they have, they have won. Two final fours in the last 8 years. One with Dante Cunnigham and one with Daniel “The Chef” Ochefu. Spellman, a likely lottery pick, got to sit for a year and get developed by arguably the best team at developing players in the country. This team is not a usual Nova team. They can go 8 deep and will have an elite front-court player. Scary.
Returning Players: Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, Donte Divincenzo, Eric Paschal
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: 1
The Pirates are back. They have been since Isaiah Whitehead carried them to a Big East Championship two years ago. The 2016 Big East Champions were led by a sophomore class of studs, and now they are all seniors and they are all still in Pirate Land (other than Whitehead). Kevin Willard is an elite coach and this senior class is special.
Returning Players: Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Myles Powell
Incoming Players: Myles Cale (F)
Take a second and reread that list of names. Carrington is a senior, tier 1 Big East point guard, Delgado is a top 3 player in the conference, and Rodriguez is a senior wing who can get hot and end a game before it starts. Powell is a sophomore 4 star recruit who is more than capable to play along side and backing up Carrington. And if that does not work out, they have another freshman top 100 guard coming in, Myles Cale.
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: 5
The Friars come in red hot at 3. This is an easy one; I hope Seton Hall doesn’t fall asleep because Kyron Cartwright and the boys are marching up the power rankings. Last year, the Friars were picked by the coaches to come in 9th. NINTH. That is laughable. The Friars have more grit than the rest of the conference combined, and that showed when they ended the year last year with 6 straight wins, highlighted by a road win at the buzzer in Omaha, Nebraska.
Okay, enough about last years magical run to Dayton for the Play In Game. Yes, losing legendary walk-on Casey Woodring is devastating, but this team returns everybody and adds highly touted recruits, Makai Ashton Langford and Nate Watson. Ed Cooley can legitimately go 10 deep if he wants. If he can manage all of this talent and develop an effective rotation, the Friars will be top 20 all year.
Returning Players: Kyron Cartwright, Rodney Bullock, Jalen Lindsey, Alpha Diallo, Emmit Holt, Isaiah Jackson, Drew Edwards, Maliek White
Incoming Players: Makai Ashton Langford, Nate Watson, Dajour Dickens
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: 6
Bill Murray and the X Men are coming off a deep tournament run.
After losing Edmond Sumner, the Xavier season looked like it was going to spiral out of control. Then Trevon Bluiett went “Bryce Cotton Mode” and somehow got to the Elite 8. Bluiett is a serious contender for Big East Player of the Year and he shares the backcourt with the GOAT, JP Macura, and a top 40 recruit in Paul Scruggs. Yes, depth is a concern, but Chris Mack is a great in game coach, and Godwin is coming off a great tournament. Enes Kanter is probably still looking for his passport in Turkey, but his brother, Kerem Kanter, will be commanding the post (bench) for the Musketeers. Who am I kidding, Kerem Kanter is probably Enes just changing his name and looking for a fresh start.
Ohh and by the way, for everyone keeping track at home, the Musketeers have four 4-star recruits coming in as freshman this year. Wow-zers
Returning Players: Trevon Bluiett, JP Macura, Quentin Godwin, Sean O’Mara
Incoming Players: Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Jared Ridder, Elias Harden
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: 6
Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas make up an elite backcourt in Omaha. Losing 7 foot stud, Justin Patton, will hurt, but the Bluejays have scorers all over the court and should be a threat down the stretch in conference play. Foster is coming off an unbelievable year and will only get better as Thomas continues to develop while Kaleb Joseph works his way into the lineup. Depth is a concern for the Bluejays, as they did lose some firepower in Watson, Patton, and Huff, but hopefully, the 3- four star recruits coming in can help that. Nevertheless, I expect Foster and Thomas to score the ball early and often and I expect Greg McDermott to out- “X and O” other coaches. Look for them to win 20+ games and easily find their way in the dance.
Returning Players: Marcus Foster, Khyri Thomas, Tony Hegner
Incoming Players: Kaleb Joseph, Ty-Shon Alexander, Jacob Epperson, Mitchel Ballock
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: 8
Skolding Hot Take Alert:
6. St. Johns
I believe this. The Johnnies are back. The Red Storm are back. Chris “The GOAT” Mullen is back and doing a great job and it is only going to get better as he continually lands recruits and transfers. Shamorie Ponds, Marcus Lovett, and Bashir Ahmed all averaged double digit points a year ago and I expect that to grow as they mature. That is the key to this take being spoken into existence. Maturity. The talent is there, the problem is that these kids are just street-ballers who will only go as far as their Iso’s take them. It really was an AAU offense last year.
This team went 1-17 two years ago, and went 7-11 a year ago. That is impressive. They have the talent, they will be a tournament team.
I am willing to bet that Chris Mullen, along with Ahmed as a senior leader, can get these kids focused and playing real team basketball. St. Johns is ready for a come back. Also, 7 foot, 4 star phenom, Zach Brown (no not the cocaine addicted country singer) should make an immediate impact this year. It is not a question of if, it is a question of this year or next year. I say this year.
Returning Players: Shamorie Ponds, Marcus Lovett, Bashir Ahmed, Tariq Owens
Incoming Players: Zach Brown
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: 11
The poor Butler Bulldogs. Coaches are leaving Hinkle Fieldhouse at a faster rate than Tiger Woods popping Oxy on a Tuesday Night. The Bulldogs are going to be led by Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin. Both studs tallied double digit points last year and they should pick up right where they left off. Butler is going to be this low because of the coaching change. I know LaVall Jordan is a system guy, but Chris Holtmann was one of the great young coaches in college basketball and he got that team to play Big East defense. Can Jordan command a team and create that defensive unity the way Holtmann did, even with the lack of depth on the Bulldogs roster? I don’t think so, but they are talented enough with Martin and Baldwin to win between 19-21 games and sneak their way into the tournament.
Returning Players: Kelan Martin, Kamar Baldwin, Nate Fowler
Incoming Players: Christian David (lol buddy you have two first names), Aaron Thompson
NCAA Tournament Seed Predictions: 11 (Play in game)
Markus Howard, Haaniif Cheatham, and Andrew Rowsey give Marquette a chance in every game. They throw up threes like Rick Pitino throws prostitutes into recruits’ hotel rooms. Marquette is low in the power rankings because they lost so much more than they brought in. Luke Fischer put up 10 and 5 last year, as JuJuan Johnson posted 12 and 4. That is a lot of production leaving Milwaukee and I don’t know if Markus Howard chucking up 3’s is sustainable enough in this conference. Yes, he led the country from three, shooting 54.7%, but this conference is built on grit and elbows in the post. Chucking up three’s was not sustainable over the entire course of the season last year, and it won’t be this year either, especially with minimal inside presence. I like Marquette to miss on the tournament, but expect a big run in the N..I..T.. the Goat tournament
Returning Players: Markus Howard, Haanif Cheatham, Andrew Rowsey, Sam Hauser
Incoming Players: Jamal Cain
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: 2 (NIT)
Was Billy Garret the most electric player in college basketball last year? Potentially. The dude was unreal. Whether it be engineering last minute comebacks vs Providence or absolutely disappearing for halves at a time, Billy was a true wildcard, and the Big East will miss him. Luckily, for the Blue Demons, their leading scorer, Eli Cain, along with other big time contributors Tre’Darius McCallum and Brandon Cyrus return. Listen, we all know that DePaul and Georgetown are not going to be contenders this year. Not much to get excited about in terms of a recruiting class this year for DePaul, but the reason that they are 9 and not 10 is the production they will bring back, along with the fact that they don’t have a first time college basketball coach. They go 3-15 in Big East Play. Sorry, but its bum city in Chicago. Hopefully they can get recruits and represent the Big East in a more respectful way.
Returning Players: Eli Cain, Tre’Darius McCallum, Brandon Cyrus, Joe Hanel
Incoming Players: Justin Roberts
NCAA Tournament Seed Prediction: DePaul playing in March this year would be wild, but there is a better chance of a 16 seed upsetting Nova. Actually, I guess that wouldn’t be too far from the norm.
I am not going to waste anybody’s time talking about Georgetown’s roster or what they need to do to have a good year. Losing Rodney Pryor and LJ Peak (combined for 34 PPG) definitely won’t help, especially with a first year head coach in Patrick “The Goat” Ewing.
Anyways, I just wanted to spend some time talking about how much it sucks that Georgetown sucks. Georgetown – Villanova should be one of the most legendary rivalries in the country. They should be battling for recruits in the DMV (not refusing to recruit Josh Hart), they should be battling in Madison Square Garden for Big East titles, and they should be competing for Final Fours (not getting bounced first round by fucking FGCU). Writing this makes me realize how bad Georgetown has been and how good they should be. I could have done a better job than JT3 in the last 7 years. The Big East is so much more competitive when Georgetown is competitive. We should all be rooting for Patrick Ewing and the boys to turn that program around.
Alright… that was probably a mouthful for everybody. Hopefully you learned something. Before I let you go, just some quick predictions.
All Big East First Team
G: Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
G: Trevon Bluiett (Xavier)
F: Rodney Bullock (Providence)
F: Omari Spellman (Villanova)
C: Angel Delgado (Seton Hall)
Player of the Year: Trevon Bluiett
Freshman of the Year: Omari Spellman
Most Improved Player of the Year: Alpha Diallo (Providence)