Big East Preview, Predictions

Author: Dave Klinger (Editor), david.klinger@marquette.edu.

Here we go again.

For the second straight season, the Big East enters the year having lost more than it gained over the offseason. Last year, it lost a number of storied programs that had helped build the league into the perennial hardwood superpower it once was. Now, it loses some familiar standout players that barely kept the league afloat in its debut season, such as Georgetown’s Markel Starks, Marquette’s Davante Gardner, Providence’s Bryce Cotton, Xavier’s Semaj Christon, and some Creighton walk-on named Doug McDermott.

It’s not as if the conference itself is doomed. Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, and Xavier were all included in the top 20 of Rivals’ 2014 recruiting class rankings, and Marquette could’ve been as well had Buzz Williams’ recruiting class stayed intact. Marquette and Villanova have both reeled in five-star prospects for their respective 2015 classes, as the Wildcats snagged electrifying guard Jalen Brunson and Marquette received a verbal commitment from Wisconsin native Henry Ellenson. But recruiting is a measure for the future, and although the class of 2014 recruits will play in this upcoming season, they’re not expected to make impacts until two or three years from the present.

And so, we wait. The Big East doesn’t boast the money or glamour of the “football five” power conferences, but the incoming talent speaks for itself. If there’s ever a time for it to rise back to dominance and regain its respect, it’s in the next three or four years. And until then, we wait.

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… AND WRITE PREVIEW ARTICLES FOR UNOFFICIAL COLLEGE HOOPS BLOGS !!! Welcome to Marquette Nation, fellow Golden Eagles or Big East basketball fan. Our preseason predictions for Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, All-Big East First Team, and the final standings are below.

MN’S PRESEASON BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown Guard

Other candidates include ‘Nova’s Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston, St. John’s DeAngelo Harrison, Marquette’s Deonte Burton, and a few other sleepers such as Butler’s Kellen Dunham, Xavier’s Matt Stainbrook, and ‘Nova’s Ryan Arcidiacono. Smith-Rivera seems to be the favorite since he possesses the best combination of experience (junior), production (17.6 PPG last season), responsibilities (see: production), and strength of team (Georgetown projected to finish second in preseason polls). It seems that Hilliard’s supporting cast is too good for him to post “alpha dog” numbers (same with his teammate Pinkston), Harrison’s efficiency is a dumpster fire in itself (plus St. John’s usually underachieves), Burton hasn’t proven himself to be a bonafide star and plays on a mediocre squad, and those sleepers should be labeled as “great, reliable contributors” rather than put in conversations with the best in the conference.

Official Preseason Player of the Year: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera

MN’S PRESEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall Guard

I’m not sure how much head coach Kevin Willard paid five-star, top-15 recruit Isaiah Whitehead to take his scoring abilities to Seton Hall, but nonetheless, the McDonald’s All-American is expected to carry the scoring load for this young team from day one. And why shouldn’t he? Just watch the video if you need proof.

Official Preseason Player of the Year: Isaiah Whitehead

MN’S PRESEASON COACH OF THE YEAR

Jay Wright, Villanova

As CBS Sports said in its Big East preview: “To win this, you’ve either got to seriously overachieve or generally just dominate the league.” Villanova, returning almost all of the talent from its first-place 2013-14 team, is poised for another season of squashing the inferior squads that compose the rest of the conference. Another pick to cruise through the league could be Georgetown, but they don’t possess as much star power as the Wildcats boast. Some candidates for “serious overachievers” include Butler (especially considering the adversity they’ve suffered at the coaching position), Seton Hall (see: Isaiah Whitehead), and Marquette (especially considering the “first year coach” factor), but none seem as safe of a pick as Jay Wright and Villanova.

No official preseason poll for Coach of the Year

MN’S ALL-BIG EAST FIRST TEAM

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown

D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s

Darrun Hilliard, Villanova

Matt Stainbrook, Xavier

JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova

Official Preseason All-Big East First Team: Kellen Dunham (Butler), Smith-Rivera, Harrison, Pinkston, Stainbrook

MN’S PRESEASON STANDINGS PREDICTIONS

Each includes a short hashtag that sums up my opinion on the team. In parentheses is the team’s official preseason standing in the coaches’ poll.

1. Villanova (1) – #BackToDominate

2. Georgetown (2) – #ReboundSeason

3. Xavier (4) – #ExperiencedAndSecretlyTalented

4. St. John’s (3) – #GreatTalentBadCoaching

5. Butler (7) – #BetterThanMostThink

6. Marquette (7, tied with Butler) – #TalentedButShortAndInexperienced

7. Providence (5) – #LosingCottonHurts

8. Seton Hall (6) – #TooYoung

9. Creighton (9) – #WHEREDIDYOURTALENTGO

10. DePaul (10) – #LOL (but actually, #SecretlyTalentedButWillProbablyStillFinishLastLikeAlways)

Welcome to Marquette Nation – a blog and twitter feed of all things Marquette basketball. Follow us on Twitter at @mubbnation for live updates on recruiting, games, facts, and the occasional opinion. For inquiries, contact us at mubb.nation@gmail.com. Our email is flooded with Twitter notifications, however, so just tag us in a tweet or something, okay?

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