Ahh, the Big East. What is there to say?
Poor Big East.
No longer is it the big, bad bully of college basketball. No longer does it possess multiple Hall of Fame coaches and get nine or 10 of its teams into the Big Dance. Those attributes have likely been passed to their formal rival, the ACC.
Now, the poor Big East simply has 10 purely basketball schools.
The thing is, those 10 little basketball schools are all currently pretty good and all have varying degrees of rich basketball tradition.
This is the second season in its new form and for all the talk of its demise and irrelevance, the Big East was actually the fourth rated conference, according to the RPI, ahead of BCS conferences such as, the aforementioned ACC (5) and the SEC (7).
Of course, the league struggled in the only important category, the post season. If the Big East wants to gain recognition in this new chapter, they will have to make noise in the NCAA Tournament. Don’t be surprised if they do just that come March.
ALL CONFERENCE TEAM:
G – D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Jr., Georgetown
G – D’Angelo Harrison, Sr., St. John’s
G – Kellen Dunham, Jr., Butler
F – JayVaughn Pinkston, Sr., Villanova
F – LaDontae Henton, Sr., Providence
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Jr., Georgetown
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR:
Isaiah Whitehead, Fr., Seton Hall
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Chris Holtmann/Brandon Miller, Butler
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
- Villanova – Almost everyone is back to avenge their Round of 32 loss to eventual champion UConn. Jay Wright has things back on track at Nova. Best Player: JayVaughn Pinkston. Key Player: Josh Hart
- Georgetown – The Hoyas are looking to avenge their entire 2013-14 season. An influx of youth and talent, plus the return of Josh Smith, should put them on the right path. Best Player: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Key Player: Josh Smith
- St. John’s – The Johnnies have a slew of talented and experienced guards, as well as one of the best rim protectors in college basketball, Chris Obekpa. They will build off last year’s strong finish. Best Player: D’Angelo Harrison. Key Player: Rysheed Jordan
- Providence – Ed Cooley’s program arrived last season with a surprising run to the Big East Tournament championship. Don’t expect the Friars to regress. Best Player: LaDontae Henton. Key Player: Kris Dunn
- Xavier – Coach Chris Mack infuses a strong recruiting class with some experienced and intriguing leftovers. Best Player: Matt Stainbrook. Key Player: James Farr
- Butler – With coach Brandon Miller sidelined indefinitely due to a medical condition, highly regarded assistant, Chris Holtmann, takes over. The Bulldogs lost a lot of close games last year, so it won’t take much for them to be a surprise team in the conference. Best Player: Kellen Dunham. Key Player: Roosevelt Jones
- Seton Hall – The Hall pulled off a recruiting coup and enticed some of the New York area’s finest to settle in Jersey, led by Isaiah Whitehead. The Pirates were surprisingly scrappy last year and they have some talent returning, so it could be interesting. Best Player: Isaiah Whitehead. Key Player: Brandon Mobley
- Creighton – It doesn’t take a tarot card reading to let you know the Bluejays will be less potent, post McBuckets. However, Greg McDermott can coach and his team will still be a scrappy, three-point shooting bunch. Best Player: Austin Chatman. Key Player: Devin Brooks
- Marquette – We absolutely know new coach Steve Wojciechowski brings outstanding pedigree and enthusiasm with him from Duke. Unfortunately, he’ll have little to work with in this tough conference. Best Player: Matt Carlino. Key Player: Deonte Burton
- DePaul – The Blue Demons have finished last in the Big East the past six seasons. Yes, that’s right, SIX. Can they reverse their fortunes this season? Can Oliver Purnell survive another year in Chicago? I’ll believe it when I see it. Best Player: Billy Garrett Jr. Key Player: Myke Henry