The Big East Conference has long been known for its competitive basketball programs, and the 2023-2024 season is shaping up to be another exciting year. With talented rosters and experienced coaches, several teams are vying for the top spot in the conference standings. As an experienced sports journalist, I had the opportunity to gather insights from experts and analyze team statistics to provide my projected order of finish and predictions for the upcoming season.
Before diving into the specifics, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges faced by all teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season was marred by cancelations, postponements, and limited capacity crowds. However, with vaccination rates increasing and safety protocols in place, there’s hope for a more normalized season this time around.
With that said, here are my projected rankings for the Big East teams, taking into account factors such as returning players, recruitment classes, coaching experience, and preseason performances:
1. Villanova University Wildcats – The reigning champions look poised to defend their title, boasting a strong lineup led by seniors Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Their balanced attack and stifling defense should propel them towards another successful campaign. 2. Creighton University Bluejays – After a surprising run to the championship game last season, Greg McDermott’s squad returns with high expectations. They welcome back All-Big East First Team selection Marcus Zegarowski and add a top-ranked recruiting class, positioning themselves for a deep tournament run. 3. Seton Hall University Pirates – Despite losing key contributors Myles Powell and Romaro Gill, Kevin Willard’s team has enough talent to remain competitive. Look for senior Jared Rhoden to take on a larger scoring role, while transfers like Bryce Aiken and Tyrese Samuel bolster their depth. 4. Providence College Friars – Ed Cooley’s crew faces a daunting non-conference schedule, but they return a solid core featuring All-Big East Honorable Mention David Duke and rim protector Nate Watson. Don’t count out the Friars as dark horses in the league race. 5. Marquette University Golden Eagles – Shaka Smart takes the reins at Marquette, inheriting a young roster with promising pieces like sophomore guard DJ Carton and freshman forward Dawson Garcia. While growing pains are likely, the Golden Eagles could surprise doubters come March. 6. Butler University Bulldogs – LaVall Jordan’s program continues to trend upwards, thanks in part to the return of dynamic scorer Kamar Baldwin and the addition of graduate transfer Sean McDowell. A tough non-conference slate will prepare them for a playoff push. 7. Georgetown University Hoyas – Patrick Ewing’s third season at his alma mater brings optimism, especially with the arrival of highly touted freshmen RJ Cole and Qudus Wahab. The Hoyas might still be a year away from serious contention, but strides are expected. 8. DePaul University Blue Demons – Dave Leitao’s bunch showed flashes of brilliance last season before fading down the stretch. Transfers like Charlie Moore and Javon Freeman-Liberty join forces with promising sophomores like Romeo Weems and Jaylen Butz, making DePaul a potential spoiler in the conference. 9. St. John’s University Red Storm – Mike Anderson’s first year in Queens saw moments of promise, particularly from stars like Julian Champagnie and Rasheem Dunn. However, inconsistency plagued their season, and the Red Storm face a difficult road to climb in the standings. 10. Xavier University Musketeers – Travis Steele’s tenure began with a disappointing record last season, but he hopes to turn things around with a revamped roster. Sophomore Zach Freemantle and junior college transfer James Bouknight offer reasons for excitement, yet significant improvement seems unlikely given the Musketeers’ recent struggles.
Of course, predicting the exact order of finish is never an exact science, and injuries, player