COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS BACK !
It has been way too long without college hoops and we are going to be reunited with the graciousness that is NCAA basketball. The Big East was one of the most competitive conferences in the nation and should retain that quality in the upcoming season.
Team by Team Breakdown
Xavier Musketeers-The Musketeers had a late season surge last year. They found themselves in the conference title game against Villanova and even won a few games in the NCAA tournament before their season came to a close against Arizona. The focal point of their offense is gone in the form of Matt Stainbrook, but they have a reliable crew coming back featuring; Jalen Reynolds, Myles Davis, Trevon Blueitt, and Remy Abell. The non-conference schedule is challenging to say the least. Xavier will be matched up with Mizzou, Michigan, Alabama, Cincinatti, Auburn and Wake Forest. Not including the game following Alabama when they will play Wichita State or Southern Cal. The early tests for Xavier could be a sign of how their season will play out.
Villanova Wildcats- Once again Nova is the heavyweight, odds-on favorite to finish #1 in the conference and with good reason. They lost JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard, but they are bringing back essentially everyone and then some. Josh Hart, Daniel Ochefu, and reigning conference Co-Player of the Year Ryan Arcidiacono will be the go-to guys on both sides of the ball. As if the team wasn’t stacked to begin with, they pulled in Fordham transfer Eric Paschall, along with three touted freshaman; Tim Delaney, Donte DiVincenzo, and 5-Star point guard Jalen Brunson. Villanova will have a clash with Virginia, which could very well be the best team they see until March. Nova should have a successful title defense unless something goes horribly wrong. The real question will be, can they make a deep run in the tourney this year ?
Seton Hall Pirates- The Seton Hall season was one to forget. Suspensions, locker room turmoil, and a hefty amount of losses was the recipe for disaster for the boys from South Orange, NJ. Big East Rookie of the Year Angel Delgado should be a double-double machine this year. He led all D1 freshman with 9.8 rebounds per outing and registered 9.3 points per game. He and Isiah Whitehead are bright spots on a lackluster team. It will be a highly unlikely for SHU to not to finish towards the bottom of the standings.
St. John’s Red Storm- Dream Team member and university alum Chris Mullin is at the helm in Queens. There is a big difference in the roster this season. All of the weapons the Johnnies had last season are essentially gone. There is so much inexperience on the roster. Expect some growing pains with a team that is practically brand-new compared to last season. It will be a moral victory if St. John’s doesn’t finish 9th or 10th in this year’s standings. It is definitely a transition period for the historic program.
Providence Friars- Two words will be the key to the Providence campaign, Kris Dunn. The Friars will go as far as their point guard takes them. He is a stud, who even passed up being a sure-fire NBA Lottery pick to return to school. The reigning Co-Player of the Year and Big East Defensive Player of the Year will need all the help he can get this season. There is a lot of young talent on the PC roster. There is not a single senior on the team. A few younger players will need to step up if the Friars want to contend in the Big East.
Marquette Golden Eagles- 2014-15 wasn’t exactly a typical Marquette season. The program is known for winning and producing next-level talent but there has been a lack of both lately in Milwaukee The headliner for the upcoming season is 5-freshman Henry Ellenson. He could very well be one-and-done material and could do some serious damage with fellow big man Luke Fischer. Two guys starting that are both 6’11 245 could be the key to them snatching W’s from teams that can’t play to their size. Duane Wilson gives the backcourt some experience and skill, when there are plenty of newcomers at the guard spot. The Golden Eagles are a dark horse to make some noise in the Big East this year, they are a definite variable.
Georgetown Hoyas- The Hoyas were polled to finish 2nd in the conference this year and that is a fair estimate. The Hoyas are the most physically daunting team in the Big East. They have three players under 6’5. One of them is 6’3 D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and he plays much bigger than that. The guard from Indy is easily their most valuable player. He’s a solid scorer, an effective distributor and a menace defensively. Issac Copeland and Paul White are two forwards that will be vital to taking the scoring load off of DSR. Georgetown will battle for three contests in a row in the non-conference when they face Maryland, Wisconsin, and Duke or VCU. Two games after the latter matchup, they will host Syracuse. Those games could be really exciting or a total nightmare for the Hoya faithful.
DePaul Blue Demons- The Blue Demons are looking to build off of their established core from last season. Billy Garrett Jr., Tommy Hamilton IV, and Myke Henry are the top options for DePaul. Someone will need to step up on a team with six underclassmen. The non-conference slate is pretty tricky for DePaul. Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, Northwestern, and possibly Florida State will end up squaring off before conference play. The out of conference test will be an accurate indicator for DePaul moving ahead.
Creighton BlueJays- Creighton is pegged to finish 9th in the conference, which is warranted after a less-than-stellar season last year. Maurice Watson Jr., James Milliken, and Isiah Zierden are all reliable guards to handle backcourt duties. Up front Geoffrey Groselle brings a lot of experience at center and shot 64.9% from the field per 40 min. played. This team could be very interesting if Marcus Foster was eligible, but the lack of a true scorer like Foster will keep the BlueJays from being consistently competitive in 2015-16
Butler Bulldogs- Butler is coming off a great season, especially after they bombed their first season in the Big East. The Dawgs are bringing back two projected all conference players in Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones. The two seniors will be the go-to options on offense. Two under-the-radar point guards transferred to Butler this season, Tyler Lewis and Jordan Gathers. Lewis is an efficient distributor who will get his teammates quality shot opportunities and Gathers is a combo guard who will serve as Lewis’s backup. Kelan Martin will be a player to watch coming off the bench, when he subs in for Dunham or Jones. Martin has the ability to score from mid-range and-in effectively, which could grant him time at power forward when the Dawgs run small lineups. If Villanova slips up, expect Butler and Georgetown to duke it out for the Big East Crown.
2015 Preseason BE Poll My Predictions
- Villanova 1. Villanova
- Georgetown 2. Georgetown
- Butler 3. Butler
- Xavier 4. Xavier
- Providence 5. Marquette
- Marquette 6. Providence
- Seton Hall 7. DePaul
- DePaul 8. Creighton
- Creighton 9. Seton Hall
- St. John’s 10. St. John’s
2015 Preseason 1st Team All Conference
Kris Dunn PG Providence, Kellen Dunham SG Butler, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera PG Georgetown, Roosevelt Jones SF Butler, Ryan Arcidiacono PG Villanova, Jalen Reynolds F/C Xavier
My 1st Team
Kris Dunn PG Providence, Kellen Dunham SG Butler, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera PG Georgetown, Ryan Arcidiacono PG Villanova PG, Daniel Ochefu C Villanova, Henry Ellenson F/C Marquette
2015 Preseason 2nd Team All Conference
Henry Ellenson F/C Marquette, Angel Delgado F/C Seton Hall, Isiah Whitehead PG/SG Seton Hall, Billy Garrett Jr. PG/SG DePaul, Daniel Ochefu C Villanova
My 2nd Team
Roosevelt Jones SF Butler, Jalen Reynolds F/C Xavier, Angel Delgado F/C Seton Hall, Josh Hart G/F Villanova, Isiah Whitehead PG/SG, Billy Garrett Jr PG/SG DePaul
2015 Honorable Mention All-Conference
Jalen Brunson PG Villanova, Luke Fischer F/C Marquette, Issac Copeland SF/PF Georgetown, Trevon Blueitt SG Xavier
My Honorable Mention
Jalen Brunson PG Villanova, Luke Fischer F/C Marquette, Issac Copeland SF/PF, Tyler Lewis PG Butler
Preseason Player of the Year My Pick
Kris Dunn Providence D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera