Saturday, February 2, 2019

Big East Scuffle

Entering the weekend, the Big East was the lowest it had been in KenPom conference standings since 2014, the first year with its current membership. Villanova leads the league with an undefeated record and Marquette is second with only one blemish. Both meet twice in the next month.

After that, it’s bleak for much hope come March. St. John’s is on that 9-11 line and at 47 in KenPom, they’ll certainly be underdogs in the opening round. Seton Hall is similar seed-wise and 68th in KenPom. Woof. Butler, Creighton and Georgetown are hovering around the bubble.

St. John’s has the most talent and athletes. That’s been a common theme seemingly since the days of Steve Lavin. If any of those 5 teams has a chance to win a few games in March, it’s the Red Storm. They’re just as likely to lose by 20 in the opener.

The biggest disappointment has been Xavier. Chris Mack didn’t leave the cupboard bare. Though the lost Trevon Bluiett, Sean O’Mara and J.P. Macura, they still brought back Naji Marshall, Quentin Gooden and Paul Scruggs. Expecting a 1-seed would have been ridiculous but this should be a tournament team.

Though Providence looks unlikely to keep their tournament streak alive, I’d bet on them returning next year. Everyone save Isaiah Jackson will be back next year. They’ll have a chance to replicate the success Marquette has found this season.

This season in the Big East is a bit of a reset. Villanova is still the lead dog and continues to recruit well. Marquette will likely return all of their key players next year except perhaps Markus Howard who will at the very least test the NBA waters. Either way, they’ll still be very good. 

Providence will be very good. The wild cards will be Xavier, Seton Hall and Georgetown. Xavier will bring back a lot of good players. The Hoyas young and talented back court should be better. Seton Hall is also a very young team. All 4 of those teams should be much better.

It’s not a good Big East this year. Though they’re 5th in conference rankings overall and well ahead of the Pac-12, it’s a league in transition but I think next year will be different.

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