2014 Big East Preview: Villanova Once Again The Class Of The Big East



The Big East has a much different look than it once did. Now made up entirely of private schools the 10-team league is looking to establish a new image even though the product on the court last season wasn’t nearly what it once was. Villanova was the most consistent team a year ago but it was Providence that took the conference tournament title. Villanova is once again the favorite to come out on top heading in to year two of the revamped Big East but there are a couple of other teams that have the potential to knock them in 2014-15. Here is a quick look at what to expect in the Big East this season.

The Favorite

Villanova

Four of five starters return from a team that went 16-2 in the Big East a year ago and while the loss of James Bell will hurt there is too much talent and experience on this roster to doubt the Wildcats at the top. Sophomore John Hart is ready to step in to the role vacated by Bell while JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hillard, and Ryan Arcidiacono all return with three years of experience under their belts. The only question this team will have to answer is whether or not they have the depth should one of their big three go down but as long as they stay healthy Villanova looks like an obvious choice to win the Big East in 2014-15.

Next In Line

Georgetown

The Hoyas never recovered from their 2012-13 collapse and the result was an underwhelming 18-15 record that left a lot of question marks about the direction of the program last season. However, Josh Smith is healthy and motivated and the scouts continue to rave about what D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera can do and that was enough for the oddsmakers to list Georgetown right behind Villanova among the favorites to win the Big East. I would wait to see what the Hoyas bring to the table early on this season before laying any money down though as even if they take a step in the right direction they may not have the talent and depth to challenge Villanova.

Xavier

The Musketeers are another team in that second tier behind the Wildcats as they lost their leading scorer Semaj Christon as well as two other starters from a team that played well but wasn’t dominant last season. Massive center Matt Stainbrook will be a force in the middle at both ends of the floor and while Remy Abell should help carry some of the load following Christon’s exit there simply isn’t enough depth here to make up for what was lost. Xavier will be a very good team once again but they don’t have enough weapons to challenge Villanova for top spot in the Big East.

Providence

Losing Bryce Cotton certainly won’t help Providence’s chances of repeating in the Big East even though Ed Cooley has done a good job reloading the talent on his roster. LaDontae Henton and Tyler Harris have the potential to put up big numbers together while seven-foot center Carson Desroisers will be able to match up with opponents like Stainbrook for Xavier. However, the Friars don’t have the weapons they need in the back court to go up against Villanova and even though anything can happen in a one game elimination they will have a tough time repeating unless the talent in the back court really progresses throughout the season.

Dark Horse Sleeper

St. John’s

D’Angelo Harrison is one of the top pure talents in the Big East but Steve Latvin will have to find a way to convince him to be more of a team player if the Red Storm are going to live up to this label as a sleeper pick to surprise. Point guard Phil Greene has three years of experience under his belt and Rysheed Jordan is another talented piece to compliment Harrison’s scoring ability but they will need the latter to become a more complete player to make up for a thin frontcourt and have a chance to challenge Villanova atop the Big East in 2014-15.

Odds To Win The Big East Conference

Butler +800

Creighton +2000

DePaul +5000

Georgetown +200

Marquette +1200

Providence +500

Seton Hall +2000

St Johns +800

Villanova +175

Xavier +350