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Big East Outlook for Next Season


The Monday after the first weekend of the Dance has, at least of late, been the day for Hoyas fans to drown in a pool of our own tears, but after a weekend that saw all but one Big East team advance to the Sweet Sixteen it looks like some other folks in our neck of the woods are feeling gloomy.

Though my first instinct was to tweet back CRY ME A RIVER at all these cats, instead I’ll offer the below thoughts.

First, the 1st or 2nd round losses by the Big East teams really don’t matter. This Tournament has been batshit crazy, and when it’s all said and done, the things people will remember will be the UMBC win, the Sister Jean/Loyola-Chicago run, and whoever ultimately wins. Come April, no one is going to even think about the fact that Ed Cooley is now 1-5 in the NCAA Tournament, that Seton Hall’s vaunted senior class really didn’t accomplish all that much nationally, the mediocrity of Creighton and Butler, or whether Xavier wasn’t really good enough to deserve a 1 seed to begin with. Indeed, the Big East still has Villanova alive and well, and assuming the ‘Cats advance to the Final Four, it’s all good in the Big East hood from an outsiders perspective.

But let’s take a look inside for a minute, as I think the picture for the Conference is a tad more murky. Let’s go team by team, in order of this season’s finish:

  1. Xavier: Uh oh! Losing as a 1 seed in the 2nd round is one thing, but losing its best players in Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura AND potentially head coach Chris Mack to Louisville and all of a sudden you’ve got a program in a potential rebuilding mode. I have no idea which recruits are coming in (would they follow Mack out the door?), but regardless it seems like suddenly the Muskies are going to have large shoes to fill all over the place.

Trend: DOWN.

2. Villanova: The Big East torchbearer continues to do the Conference a favor by winning, and thank goodness for the coaching genius of foppish dandy Jay Wright. Losing Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges to the NBA will be tough to overcome, but the ‘Cats have plenty of firepower coming in and should be ready to contend again as soon as next season. Trend: STEADY

3. Creighton: Marcus Foster isn’t walking through that door anymore for the Jays, whose time in the upper half of the Big East might be coming to an end. Greg McDermott has a couple of 4-stars heading to Omaha next season, but next year’s team could struggle to gain footing while the youngsters get acclimated.
Trend: DOWN

4. Seton Hall: Uh oh! Look, I know Seton Hall fans get all warm and fuzzy inside when they speak of this senior class that brought respect and dignity back to South Orange, but big picture what did that really do for the program? The Big East Tournament win was cool thanks to Isaiah Whitehead, but did the school take advantage of it on the recruiting trail? Where is the influx of talent? Shouldn’t a senior class like that have produced more than 1 NCAA Tournament win? Why would Willard even be considering a move to Pitt?
Trend: DOWN

5. Providence: I’ve dealt enough with Providence fans on twitter who at this point have consumed an ocean’s worth of Ed Cooley Kool-aid (“Cool-aid?”) and believe he can do no wrong. I just really have a hard time getting around that 1-5 mark in the Dance with the lone win coming as a 9 seed on a squad with Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but hey, whatever floats your boat. No excuses moving forward though, as Cooley has a loaded class coming in and should have the Friars in the top-tier of the Big East next season. In theory.
Trend: UP

6. Marquette: A number of Golden Eagles fans were calling for Wojo to be fired after this season, though I suspect the current run in the NIT has gotten them off that soapbox for a bit. Wojo seems to have recruited pretty well at Marquette and the Eagles could very easily be a Sweet 16 team next season as the only guy they lose is that devil Andrew Rowsey.
Trend: UP.

7. Butler: Wideman and Martin are gone, but everyone else returns for the Bulldogs, who despite finishing 7th in the Big East were probably better than people thought they would be. Fully expect more of the same next season as The Butler Way continues to be both successful and insufferable.
Trend: UP.

8. Georgetown: Patrick Ewing brought excitement back to the program and the Hoyas were competitive in nearly every game during the Conference schedule. Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson will be back, joined by impressive freshmen Jamorko Pickett and a wave of recruits led by the dunktastic point guard Mac McClung.
Trend: UP.

9. St. Johns’s: Despite a 9th place finish in the Big East I would argue that St. John’s had a better season than a team like Cincinnati, which will now be remembered for that choke job against Nevada more than for anything else they accomplished this season. My takeaway from this Johnnies season are the wins against Duke and Villanova, and a perception that this team could beat anyone on any given night. They didn’t, of course, which is problematic, but the potential is there...just as it has been for like half a dozen years now.
Trend: UP.

10. DePaul: DePaul was much better this season than in the recent past. The talent level still doesn’t seem to be getting much better in Chicago though and they still need to land one big-time recruit to start making noise again, but the Blue Demons played hard.
Trend: Steady.

So there you have it. 5 teams on the way up, 3 teams on the way down, and 2 steady Eddies. The Conference could easily get 5-6 teams back in the Dance next season, ready to party once again.

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Concerns? Inane Comments?