Big East Wrap-Up: Lasting Impressions and Early Rankings

Posted by Justin Kundrat on April 11th, 2018

All hail Donte DiVincenzo‘s flurry of baskets that left Michigan fans saying “who is this guy?”

Villanova Celebrates Its Second National Championship in the Last Three Years Last Week (USA Today Images)

  • Villanova has ascended into blue-blood territory. It’s a tired storyline at this point but it’s also probably the biggest one coming out of the NCAA Tournament. Winners of two championships in three years with largely a different set of players means that Jay Wright has officially assembled a dynasty. Villanova has the roster makeup that makes the rest of college basketball envious: dynamic guards that can score at multiple levels; floor-spacing big men who can shoot the three; and sufficient experience together to play cohesive team defense. The best part is that even with some expected early departures pending (Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson?), Villanova’s standing near the top of the national rankings isn’t likely to change, and that’s what makes this program a dynasty.
  • Goodbye, Chris Mack. Another year, another lost Big East coach to a bigger program budget and salary. Last year, it was Chris Holtmann departing Butler for Ohio State (where he excelled). This year it’s Chris Mack who packed his bags for Louisville after a nine-year tenure at Xavier that included five straight NCAA tournament appearances. In his stead is former assistant Travis Steele, promoted from a position he has held since 2008. Steele has already impressively gotten to work, quickly signing two graduate transfers in Zach Hankins (D-II National Player of the Year) and Kyle Castlin (Columbia) while being in the running for many others. On the heels of a massive graduating class in Cincinnati, Steele will have his work cut out for him next season.
  • Hello, Providence backcourt. What Ed Cooley has done with his guards during his tenure at Providence has been nothing short of amazing. From Bryce Cotton to Kris Dunn to Kyron Cartwright, there has never been a dearth of electric, play-making perimeter players on his roster. Now, though, with Cartwright graduating, the question of who is next for the Friars is bubbling up. Early signs pointed to rising sophomore Makai Ashton-Langford, but his limited end-of-season usage and errant decision-making have been confounding. Encouragingly, Cooley is also bringing in two heralded backcourt recruits in David Duke and AJ Reeves, and it’s a safe bet given recent history that at least one of the pair will emerge into the spotlight.

  • Believe it or not, Georgetown DID take a step forward. The Hoyas’ overall results this season might not have shown it, but there were flashes of a versatile and balanced Georgetown offense when its inexperienced backcourt was clicking. As of earlier this week, the majority of the Hoyas’ scoring output was set to return until a surprise draft declaration by Marcus Derrickson shocked everyone. With a key piece of the offense now gone, much of next season’s outlook will hinge on the offseason progression of guards Jagan Mosely and Jahvon Blair in addition to how much time freshman Jamorko Pickett spends in the weight room.
  • Who’s up next? It’s safe to assume that Villanova will retain its stranglehold at the top of the league next season, but with major personnel departures from Xavier, Providence, Creighton and Seton Hall this offseason, there’s a clear opening for the other league contenders. Much depends on the transfer market and the ultimate decisions of various NBA Draft entrants, but Butler, Creighton, Providence and Marquette should all be in the running.

2018-19 Early Big East Rankings

As always, take these with a grain of salt.

  1. Villanova
  2. Butler
  3. Creighton (assuming Thomas returns)
  4. Providence
  5. Marquette
  6. Xavier
  7. Seton Hall
  8. Georgetown
  9. St. John’s
  10. DePaul
Justin Kundrat (143 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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One response to “Big East Wrap-Up: Lasting Impressions and Early Rankings”

  1. El Conquistador says:

    I like Butler’s trajectory under LaVall – he’s got the tools in place. And like ❌ he’s in the conversations for every big transfer it seems.
    Look for Butler’s guard play to really catch fire next year on the defensive end.

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