Introducing the RTC Big East Preseason Power RankingsPosted by Dan Lyons (@Dan_Lyons76) on November 8th, 2013
College basketball is back! Seven Big East teams open their seasons tonight, including a few big match-ups like St. John’s vs. Wisconsin and Georgetown vs. Oregon. There is no better time to unveil the Big East microsite’s preseason rankings, with comments and analysis from our group of Big East writers:
- Dan Lyons – With Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young heading into their senior years, this might be DePaul’s best chance to get out of the Big East basement, but I’m definitely taking a wait and see approach with the Blue Demons.
- George Hershey - It’s DePaul… They have some talent in Melvin and Young, but they don’t play defense.
- Todd Keryc - It doesn’t matter what league they play in or who else is in it, the poor Blue Demons are destined for the cellar almost every year.
- DL – With the injury to Roosevelt Jones, Butler is without a returning double-figure scorer this season. I’m not one to bet against the Bulldogs, with or without Brad Stevens, but this inaugural Big East campaign isn’t shaping up too well for this Cinderella.
- GH - They lose many pieces from last year’s team. Roosevelt Jones’ injury really hurts, but they are Butler and they always surprise everyone. Expect Kellen Dunham to have a big year.
- TK - Bad timing for the Bulldogs. They ride two straight national title appearances into two straight conference upgrades, only to see their boy wonder coach Brad Stevens leave for the NBA.
- DL – Semaj Christon and Dee Davis are a nice combination at guard, but there isn’t a lot of other returning talent for the Musketeers this season.
- GH - Semaj Christon is amazing, but he doesn’t have much help. The Big East teams will try to lock him down and let the other guys beat them. Going to have to adjust to the new league.
- TK - One of the three lucky schools to join the league this year, but not expected to be Chris Mack’s best squad.
7. Seton Hall
- DL – Fuquan Edwin is a huge talent, but there are big question marks with the Pirates’ backcourt.
- GH - Three starting seniors bring plenty of experience and ability. Edwin is a stud and Gene Teague has shown bright flashes. Young frontcourt will have ups and downs but has talent.
- TK - Fell apart in the Big East last year, but things are looking up for the Pirates, especially with a possible top-five recruiting class set to arrive in 2014.
- DL – Bryce Cotton, Kris Dunn and Brandon Austin may make for a VERY fun team in 2013-14, but what kind of production will they get from their bigs? Kadeem Batts was a bit up and down last season, but has the ability to blow up any night.
- GH - Cotton leads a rising team. Batts and Dunn will provide plenty of help for him and Ed Cooley is building the program nicely.
- TK – Started 2-7 in the Big East last year before finding a groove with Bryce Cotton, the league’s leading scorer, returning.
5. St. John’s
- DL – Steve Lavin may have the most talented team in the Big East, but will the pieces fit? If Rysheed Jordan and D’Angelo Harrison play well together in the backcourt, the Johnnies will be able to score with anyone.
- GH - Boatloads of talent, but Harrison is a ballhog and I can’t see them beating the teams ahead of them. Could easily move up, but hard to bet on them after past few seasons.
- TK – Steve Lavin has accumulated a lot of talent in Queens. They had their chances last year before losing six of last seven (including the Big East Tournament). A better finish and the Johnnies will be dancing this season.
- DL – This young team surprised many last year, especially with their takedown of two top-five teams in the course of a few days when they beat both Louisville and Syracuse at home. Ryan Arcidiacono had a strong freshman season and will look to build on that this year, and JayVaughn Pinkston is one of the better forwards in the league.
- GH - Came on really strong last season in conference play. Return most of their starters and young guys from last year will only get better.
- TK – Arcidiacono had stretches of stardom last year. Better decision-making between passing and shooting and Villanova will compete for the league title.
- DL – The Bluejays are set to experience a serious step up in competition with the move to the Big East, but at the end of the day they have the best player in the league in Doug McDermott, and that will get them very far.
- GH - McDermott is the top player in the league and has Grant Gibbs to help him. They only lose Greg Echenique and return plenty of experienced players.
- TK – Home of the best player in the conference but will the adjustment from the Missouri Valley to the Big East cause a lesser finish than expected? It will be fun to see McDermott regularly face better competition.
- DL – Rare is the John Thompson III Georgetown team that is led by its guard play, but Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera are going to have to be the leaders of this year’s team, especially without Greg Whittington. If Josh Smith can surprise, the Hoyas will give Marquette and Creighton a serious run this season.
- GH - The loss of Otto Porter will hurt the team a lot. They have talent but Starks is not a great first option to score. Can’t discount JTIII.
- TK – They lost their best player but also saw their biggest competition leave the conference. JTIII always has the Hoyas ready for league play.
- DL – Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Todd Mayo, and a number of other key contributors are back for the Golden Eagles, along with one of the most underrated coaches in the sport in Buzz Williams. This is an experienced squad that should be the favorite to win the Big East, and will make plenty of noise come March.
- GH – Marquette has been to the Sweet Sixteen the past three years. The frontcourt is loaded and plenty of talent in the backcourt. Can’t bet against Buzz.
- TK - Backcourt play usually makes the difference in college basketball and the Golden Eagles lost theirs from an Elite Eight squad a year ago. Still very talented and well-coached, they will be right there at the end.