Big East Coaches Pick Marquette to Win League RacePosted by George Hershey on October 16th, 2013
Today at the Big East Media day held in New York City, Marquette was picked by league coaches as the preseason favorite to win the conference. The Golden Eagles edged out Georgetown ever so slightly to gain the top spot. Georgetown (with two #1 votes) was followed by new member Creighton (one #1 vote), with Villanova, St. John’s (two #1 votes) and Providence coming in next. New member Xavier was picked seventh followed by Seton Hall, while Butler and DePaul rounded out the 10-team poll. The entire group is listed below.
- Marquette (5) 74
- Georgetown (2) 70
- Creighton (1) 61
- Villanova 58
- St. John’s (2) 56
- Providence 41
- Xavier 38
- Seton Hall 20
- Butler 19
- DePaul 13
This is Marquette’s first time atop the preseason poll as a member of the league. With the losses of Syracuse, Louisville and Connecticut and others, it has opened the door for teams like Marquette and Georgetown to become the preseason favorites. Marquette in the past has prided itself on being the quiet underdog and surprising people after being picked to finish in the middle of the pack. But this year Buzz Williams will hope to finish the way his team did last year, with a Big East championship. The Golden Eagles return its frontcourt of Davante Gardner, Chris Otule and Jamil Wilson, but will have to replace the backcourt with the losses of Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett and Vander Blue. Sophomore Derrick Wilson has been tasked with taking over as the starting point guard and stepping up as a team leader. Highly heralded recruits JaJuan Johnson, Duane Wilson and Deonte Burton will play substantial minutes early, and it will be paramount that they are able to contribute by conference season.
Georgetown comes off their most successful regular season since 2008 as the Hoyas shared the conference title with Louisville and Marquette last year. John Thompson III’s team returns most of their leading contributors from last year, but will be without the services of star forward and NPOY candidate Otto Porter. Porter blossomed into a consensus All-American in his second season on the team. Georgetown will also be without junior forward Greg Whittington for most, if not all, of the season. Nonetheless, the Hoyas will be led by returning starters Markel Starks, Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins. Thompson is also expecting a big leap by sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, after coming on very strong after Whittington was lost to suspension last year.
Creighton may have been expecting to be picked slightly higher than third in its new league, but coming from the Missouri Valley Conference it would be hard to pick them ahead of Marquette or Georgetown. Regardless of their preseason position, Creighton will no doubt be fighting for the regular season conference title. Senior stud Doug McDermott decided to return to Creighton for his final season to lead the Bluejays alongside sixth-year senior guard Grant Gibbs.
Villanova, St. Johns and Providence are all teams on the rise that have the potential to fight for spots atop the standings. Villanova had a volatile season last year with wins against top teams Louisville, Georgetown and Marquette, but they also lost several other winnable games. This year they will look to become more consistent with additional talent and experience. St. John’s and Providence have brought in stellar recruits over the past few seasons and return several key players like D’Angelo Harrison for the Johnnies and Bryce Cotton for the Friars.
The new Big East may not have the marquee powers like Louisville or Syracuse anymore, but the league has great balance and teams that are intently focused on playing basketball at a high level. Top to bottom, all the teams have strengths and weaknesses that will ensure that this season is filled with excitement and surprises.