Men’s 2017-18 Big East preview

Photo courtesy of | Senior guard J.P. Macura lit up the scoreboard against Villanova two years ago, and he hopes to do the same and lead the Musketeers to an all-important conference victory when the Wildcats come into town on Feb. 17.

The 2017-18 Big East men’s basketball season is shaping up to be a fantastic year. Seven months after sending seven teams to the tournament, the Big East is sporting three AP top 25 teams to start off the season.

The Xavier Musketeers went the deepest into the tournament last year, stringing together several upsets to make it to the Elite Eight. Currently ranked 17th in the AP Top 25, the Musketeers look to unseat the Villanova Wildcats from the top spot they have claimed two of the last three years.

Villanova is hoping to return to its 2016 NCAA championship form this year. Currently ranked sixth in the AP Top 25, the Wildcats look to bounce back from the early second round exit at the hands of Wisconsin last year. Center Omari Spellman will be able to take the court for the first time after sitting out the 2016-17 season. Junior guard Jalen Brunson looks to be the best player on the team in the post-Josh Hart era.

The Seton Hall Pirates, currently ranked 23rd in the AP Top 25, also return four starters from last year. With the experience of three seniors, guard Khadeen Carrington, forward Desi Rodriguez and center Angel Delgado, the Pirates hope to make their third straight appearance in the tournament, as well as contend for a Big East championship.

The Providence Friars shocked their way into March Madness, winning 20 games in what was supposed to be a down year. Although not ranked in the AP Top 25, the Friars are returning their top seven scorers. Look to see them find a way into the top 25 by the season’s end.

The Butler Bulldogs lost head coach Chris Holtmann to Ohio State this season. In his first season as the Bulldogs’ head coach, LaVall Jordan looks to improve on their 25-9 record.

Butler is where the conference starts to drop off in terms of talent, as the Bulldogs lost some key players from last year’s team.

The Creighton Blue Jays went 25-10 last year but were dealt a serious blow when Justin Patton went to the NBA after his freshman year. However, the number two scorer in the conference, guard Marcus Foster, returns for his senior year. The Blue Jays also have a very talented freshman class, who can make an impact right as the season starts.

The St. John’s Red Storm had a rough 2017, going 14-19. However, this was still an improvement from head coach Chris Mullins’ first year, when the team had a record of 8-24. All-Big East freshman guards Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds are the players the Red Storm hope will lead the way.

The Marquette Golden Eagles were the best team in the country when shooting behind the arc last season, making an incredible 42.9 percent of threes thanks to guard Markus Howard. Despite a huge upset over Villanova at home last year, the Golden Eagles were unable to move past the first round of March Madness. Their biggest question going forward is if they can continue to produce elite shooting from behind the arc.

The DePaul Blue Demons fell to the bottom of the conference last season, posting a 9-23 record. The most exciting thing to look forward to this season? The new arena.

The Georgetown Hoyas fired head coach John Thompson III after back-to- back disappointing seasons and hired former Hoya star Patrick Ewing.

His coaching skills will be tested, as he inherits a Georgetown squad that lost three out of its top five scorers including guards Rodney Pryor and L.J. Peak in addition to forward Bradley Hayes.

By: Jack Dunn ~Staff Writer~