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Big East: Best Conference In The Country? Yes.

Updated: Sep 13

College basketball has been sorely missed in my household this summer. I like the warmer weather and long days, but my favorite time the year runs from the end of October to the first couple weeks in April. Yes, football’s starting, and I love football, but there’s just a special place for college basketball in our household. Like the content? Follow me: @BracketNky on Twitter and @bracketnky on Instagram/Threads.

I’m starting to dive into how these teams are going to stack up this year, starting with the 6 power conferences, and moving on down after that. I’m planning a breakdown a week leading into my pre-season bracket release on halloween. Each of the conference articles are starting out as smaller previews and will get more detailed as we go, and I’ll be continually updating as information is available. My final rankings and prediction for the conference will come out closer to the start of the season, this is more of a first take overview as I get more familiar with each team going into the preseason. Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on why a team deserves something different than I have them at. Unfortunately, this isn’t my full-time job and I don’t have enough time to deeply analyze each roster.

The data I’m using to help guide me comes from Bart Torvik’s predictions for the year, along with looking at stats from last year. Of course, these aren’t exact numbers and likely won’t be perfectly accurate in predicting the year, but it does give a baseline for each team’s outlook.

Big East First Look:

This is the best conference in the country this year, at least they have that distinction going into the year.

The defending national champs are in this conference, as well as additions such as Rick Pitino, and several top recruiting classes.

Game I’m looking forward to the most: Providence hosting Georgetown for obvious reasons. I’m actually trying to plan a trip and make it up there for the game as a part of my hopes to get to all of the Big East arenas in the next 5 years.

1: UConn. Until someone proves me wrong, I’m taking the Huskies going into the year. They’re under consideration for one of my top 2 seed lines in my preseason bracket. Returning Newton/Karaban/Clingan/Diarra/Johnson is such a big deal in the transfer portal era. On top of that, their freshman class is LOADED, and they added Cam Spencer in the portal who will help further space the floor. My wildcard for this year is Samson Johnson, I’ve heard some promising things this summer, and he could be a solid piece if he can stay healthy. Hurley and co should be rollin’ this year, and I expect to see the Huskies deep into March. I don’t have a ton of questions about this team, but the freshmen are always question marks until they get rolling in the season; the good thing is UConn doesn’t need to rely on any of them to be the star as they’re a complete team all around.

2: Marquette. The Golden Eagles are coming off of winning the Big East last year, and they return 84% of their possession minutes from last year, and several players are expected to make a jump this year. The chemistry and comfort this team should have from the get go should allow them to get off to a strong start. This team has experience and I like them to compete at a high level this year. My one question is height. They’re likely starting no players over 6’10”, but Shakas teams play with an intensity and hunger that allows them to be menaces on defense/the boards and this year should be no different. I expect the golden eagles to stay toward the top of the Big East and likely be a top 5 seed come March.

3: Creighton. This team’s stacked again this year. I could see the Bluejays being better than they were last year, especially if Mason Miller can make a jump. Steven Ashworth should fit right in and help lead the Jays back to March. There was a point this summer where I thought that Creighton may lose a ton to the portal, and while they did lose, they made up for it. They’re returning 61% of their minutes from last year, I feel like all of the hype they got last year, they’re kind of under the radar with everything else going on in the Big East. McDermott and co. will be ready to compete come November. I expect them to fight toward the top of the Big East and push for a top 5 seed in March.

This next grouping is going to be very tight and they’re hard to predict coming into the year. I’m putting these in the rankings I have right now, but it’s probably going to change several more times before the first games. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one of these teams miss the NCAAT come March.

4: Villanova. Dixon/Moore returning gives this team a TON to build off of. Not to mention, Neptune and co. killed the portal this year. Hart/Bamba/Burton should be immediate contributors. This year, if healthy, there are no excuses for Villanova. They must make the bracket come March. We should learn a lot about Neptune as a coach this year, and while I’m not completely sold on him yet, he has a great shot to prove the nation he belongs in the elite cast of Big East coaches. Villanova should make the bracket easily, I’m leaning to the 5-7 seed range for now, but this team’s upside is even higher than that.

5: St. Johns. Pitino. NYC. MSG. Need I say more? St. Johns should be back this year and expectations with the talented group Pitino has brought in mean that anything outside of the NCAAT will be somewhat of a disappointment, but in the first year, I want to see SJU competitive, and I think we’ll see that. Dingle/Soriano should pack a solid 1-2 punch, but my question is: How many of these transfers will be able to immediately contribute? I think that SJU is a solid team this year, and with Pitino at the helm, I could see them being really good, but I want to see it pan out before I confidently say that SJU’s back. I’m projecting they make the bracket, but I could see them ending up in a wide range of seed lines.

6: Xavier. This is the first team on this list that I’m starting to have big questions about; Two major injuries leave the Musketeers shorthanded currently, which, while it could be a good thing for the transfer bigs to get more reps, has me worrying what this roster will look like come November. This team needs time to mesh and develop chemistry. The front court is the biggest question mark for this team, but if their overseas trip is any indication, Miller’s already on his way to figuring it out. More to come on the Muskies with my local preview in a couple weeks! I do expect them to be in the bracket come March, somewhere between a 6-9 seed.

7: Providence. Kim English HAS to prove that he can coach at this level before I’m going to believe that Providence makes it back to the NCAAT. That being said, Hopkins/Carter staying at Providence really helps ease some of my concerns about this team. This should be a really solid defensive team. Garwey Dual has the ability to be an immediate impact freshman and they’re going to need him to come in and contribute from day 1. The question I have aside from English is PG play, is Pierre ready to run the team? They’re going to need him to be a solid distributor, especially with the more open offense I’ve heard Hopkins talk about this off season. Making the bracket this year isn’t out of the questions, but I’m thinking they’ll be around the bubble all year.

Trying to get some momentum going. These teams are looking to make something they can build off of for next year.

8: Georgetown. Cooley mania year 1: Progress, but still a long way to go. Their roster’s solid, but they returned 16.2% of their possession minutes from last year, and with how historically bad the Hoyas have been, I don’t expect them to make the tournament, but I do want to see progress. BT actually projects them as the worst team in the Big East, but I won’t go that far, but they’re going to be fighting in this bottom tier of the league this year. Cooley’s going to need to prove how good of a coach he is from day 1 in D.C. to make this season a success. He wasn’t brought in to undergo a long rebuild. NIT is probably the most likely destination for them this year, which would be solid progress and hopefully set them up to make the NCAAT the next March.

9: Seton Hall. Year 1 under Holloway was disappointing, will year 2 be better? With health, this could be a competitive team. They’re an older team who should be one of the better defensive teams in the league, and Bediako should be a solid rim protector and inside presence. I am a little worried about how well the Pirates will do on offense this year, this team is older and should be able to gel quickly and hopefully leave a mark once the Big East schedule starts. I don’t think they’ll be in the NCAAT come March, but the NIT feels like a realistic goal for this squad.

10: Butler. Returning only 8.8% of your minutes from last year’s squad puts Butler in dead last in the conference in that category. However, the Bulldogs did well in the portal, and have reloaded. Year 2 of Matta’s second stint is going to have to be better or the Butler fans will start to get uneasy. I’m expecting Alexander/Davis/Brooks/Screen to all be immediate high-contribution players. My wildcards are Telfort and Moore who are up-transfers from lower schools and Matta’s going to need both of them to step into the Big East and contribute, which I’m not completely sold they’ll be able to. From a Freshmen standpoint, I’m excited to watch Finley Bizjack, who’s the 2nd best shooter in the Big East’s Freshmen class in my eyes. The Bulldogs have a shot to surprise me this year, and they’re my sleeper team to watch. Right now, I’m expecting low seed in the NIT, or maybe even a CBI bid, but there’s upside.

11: DePaul. Welcome back Blue Demons, Georgetown’s officially on a better path than you are and I expect DePaul to be the bottom of the Big East this year. I actually do like the pieces that have been brought in, but the sheer amount of transfers that this team is going to be relying on scares me. Other programs are replacing more minutes, sure, but other programs have more proven coaching on their bench. The addition of Etienne gives me a little boost to this team as they desperately needed a big, but I don’t know how impactful he’s going to be. If he surprises me and is able to be a big contributor for this team, it could be a different discussion, but until then, I don’t trust them. My question: How hot is Stubblefield’s seat getting?

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