Men’s basketball Big East outlook

Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer | Sophomore forward Naji Marshall (No. 13) was named as an honorable mention to the Big East preseason all-conference team for 2018-19.

The Musketeers were picked to finish sixth in this year’s Big East preseason coaches’ poll, which was released last Thursday.

Sophomore forward Naji Marshall was the only Musketeer to be named to the preseason all-conference team with an honorable mention. Marshall started 18 games last year and scored 7.7 points per game as well as recording 1.6 assists.

The Villanova Wildcats are looking to repeat as NCAA champions this year and win their third title in four years but will have to do so without their top four scorers from last season.

Five-star freshman point guard John Quinerly tops out coach Jay Wright’s top 10 recruit class. The Wildcats will also look for redshirt junior forward Eric Paschall to step up in the starting role.

Marquette looks to junior guard Markus Howard to unseat Villanova in the top spot. Howard was among the NCAA’s best in shooting last season, making 46 percent of his field goals and 40 percent of his three pointers. The Golden Eagles have deep threats with the Hauser brothers, Sam and Joey. Sam shot 48 percent from beyond the arc last year, and his brother was a top-55 recruit this season.

Providence came in at third on the preseason poll but had some major holes to fill after the departure of Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock. The Friars will look to sophomore guard Alpha Diallo, arguably one of the most athletic guards in the country.
The St. John’s Red Storm came in third in the poll, one point behind the Friars. Head coach Chris Mullins returns a good core of three starters. Junior guard Shamorie Ponds led the Big East Conference with 21.6 ppg last year. The Red Storm expects a boost with Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron, who was deemed eligible to play this season.

Butler finished one spot ahead of the Musketeers at five in the poll. Butler also lost its top scorer from last season in Kelan Martin but has six returners who averaged 15 minutes of playing time per game last season. The Bulldogs will look to this group as well as a talented set of newcomers to finish strong this year.

Patrick Ewing and his Hoyas finished at an even 15-15 last year, which resulted in Georgetown coming in at No. 7 in the poll. Senior big man Jesse Govan looks to improve on his double-double average, the only Big East player to do so last season.

Seton Hall ranked No. 8 this year. The Pirates are in a transition year as they look to replace four senior players who won 84 games together. Big East Most Improved Player Myles Powell looks to lead a new crew that includes two transfers in forward Taurean Thompson and guard Quincy McKnight.

Creighton came in at No. 9 in the poll, despite having a 21-win season last year. However, after some key losses from a season ago, it’s a question of if the offense can pick up the slack from players they lost defensively.

DePaul was picked to come in last for the second straight year, but returns its top scorer with Max Strus.

By: Jack Dunn | U.S. & World News Editor