After playing host to the reigning national champions’ victory tour all season, the Big East had the script flipped in March, as Villanova failed to make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, while Xavier made an improbable Elite Eight run. What’s in store for the 2017–18 season? Below, we examine the pecking order as tipoff on a new season nears.
1. Villanova Wildcats
RECORD: 2016-17 32-4
As the post-Josh Hart era begins, the keys now belong to junior Jalen Brunson, and the Wildcats return enough to hold the top spot. After sitting out 2016–17 due to an eligibility issue, former five-star big man Omari Spellman will finally take the court and should give Nova a dynamic presence down low.
2. Xavier Musketeers
RECORD: 2016-17 24-14
The Musketeers enjoyed a stunning run to the Elite Eight in March, then got the pivotal news that leading scorer Trevon Bluiett would be returning for his senior year. He leads a returning core that welcomes the nation’s No. 11 recruiting class and looks poised for big things this season.
3. Seton Hall Pirates
RECORD: 2016-17 21-12
The Pirates bring back their top four scorers, including the senior trio of Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado. This will be an experienced team that should earn its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament and could contend for the Big East title.
4. Providence Friars
RECORD: 2016-17 20-13
Last season, the Friars took what was supposed to be a rebuilding year and turned it into 20 wins and an NCAA tourney bid. This time, their top seven scorers return, including senior Rodney Bullock, and things are looking up.
5. Butler Bulldogs
RECORD: 2016-17 25-9
The Bulldogs were dealt a big blow when coach Chris Holtmann left for Thad Matta’s vacated Ohio State job in June. Now, Kelan Martin & Co. start a new era under LaVall Jordan, a former John Beilein assistant who arrives in Indy after one year as the head coach of Milwaukee.
6. Creighton Bluejays
RECORD: 2016-17 25-10
The Bluejays’ interior took a hit after the talented Justin Patton went one-and-done, but the conference’s No. 2 scorer, shooting guard Marcus Foster (18.2 ppg), is back for his senior year. The incoming freshman class has the opportunity to have an immediate impact.
7. St. John's Red Storm
RECORD: 2016-17 14-19
After a rough first season under Chris Mullin, the Red Storm improved to 14–19 last year and will look to make another jump in 2017–18. All-Big East freshman backcourt duo Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds are strong pieces for this program to build around.
8. Marquette Golden Eagles
RECORD: 2016-17 19-13
The Golden Eagles were excellent from behind the arc last season, leading the nation at 42.9%, and bring back the country’s top three-point shooter in Markus Howard (54.9%). But can they replicate an elite offense after losing some key pieces?
9. DePaul Blue Demons
RECORD: 2016-17 9-23
The Blue Demons dropped into the Big East cellar last season but should benefit from the return of Eli Cain and the addition of Northern Illinois grad transfer Marin Maric, who provides a boost inside.
10. Georgetown Hoyas
RECORD: 2016-17 14-18
Back-to-back disappointing years for the Hoyas led to the dismissal of John Thompson III. Patrick Ewing’s hiring made waves, but he’ll have his work cut out for him in year one with three of the top five scorers from a team that went 5–13 in Big East play having departed.