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Big East College Basketball Preview 2022-23

Big East basketball has been on the rise over the last few seasons. Obviously led by power Villanova, other teams have showed promise as well, like preseason top 10 team, Creighton . Last season, the Big East had six of the eleven teams reach the NCAA Tournament. With a lot of coaching turnover and new faces within the conference, we should see another intriguing season in the Big East.

Photo by Chelsea Nicholson - Creighton

1. Creighton

Creighton has received bounds of hype all offseason, and as they should. The Bluejays went toe-to-toe with the eventual National Champions, Kansas, in the round of 32 last season, without two of their best players: Ryan Kalkbrenner and RJ Nembhard. The Bluejays showcase one of the best starting lineups in the entire country this season with RJ Nembhard, Trey Alexander, SDSU transfer Baylor Scheierman, Arthur Kaluma, and Ryan Kalkbrenner. Each one of these guys is special. Scheierman is one of the best shooters in the nation, and is efficient on insanely high volume. Nembhard is an amazing facilitator and was just a freshman last season. Alexander, also an upcoming sophomore, is a strong shooter and just a great all around ball player. Kaluma showed his potential during March Madness, and is getting looks to be a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Kalkbrenner, our Preseason Big East POTY, is the reigning Big East DPOY, and is an upcoming junior with another offseason under his belt. Off the bench, the Jays have TCU transfer Francisco Farabello, freshmen Mason Miller, Fredrick King, Ben Sholtzberg, and Jasen Green. Rounding out the rotation is returnees Shereef Mitchell and John Christofillis. On top of a stacked roster, the Jays have great coaching with Greg McDermott. McDermott and this squad have the potential to hoist the national championship next march, but either way, it will be a very fun season in Omaha.

2. Villanova

People will instantly write-off Villanova following the massive losses of Hall of Fame head coach Jay Wright, and longtime superstars Collin GIllespie and Jermaine Samuels. New head coach Kyle Neptune, a former assistant under Wright, returns back to the program after one year away with Fordham. In his one year rebuild, Neptune took Fordham to 16-16, one year after a 2-12 season. Neptune deserves his respect, and I am confident he will be a good coach and leader for the Wildcats. Roster wise, Nova's best returnee, Justin Moore, is in the midst of recovering from a torn acl, but is projected to return sometime near the beginning of conference play. For now the projected lineup for the Cats will be freshman Mark Armstrong, fifth-year stud Caleb Daniels, freshman Cam Whitmore, fifth-year stud Brandon Slater, and redshirt junior Eric Dixon. All the returning players in this lineup were solid contributors last season, but none were true stars. Incoming freshman Cam Whitmore will be a star, as well as Justin Moore once he returns from injury. Off the bench Nova has Jordan Longino, Trey Patterson, Chris Arcidiacano, and Nnana Njoku. All were contributors last season. Rounding out the rotation is freshman Brendan Hausen and redshirt freshman Angelo Brizzi. Nova should be considered a top 15 team, but I do not forsee them being a national title contender.

3. Xavier

I am higher on the Xavier Musketeers than most, but with the build of this roster, it is impossible for me to not love what I see. Small forward Colby Jones and center Jack Nunge are both two of the best in the country at their positions. Shooting guard Adam Kunkel knows his role and does all the little things right, also a good shooter. At point the Muskies have UTEP transfer Souley Boum. Boum put up 20 5 and 3 with 2 steals on solid efficiency last year and new head coach Sean Miller has raved about him all offseason, so I am not worried about his transition to the Big East. At the four is the most polarizing player of the lineup. At times Zach Freemantle has shown that he is a conference player of the year caliber player, but his ego and work ethic seems to get into the way. Last season Freemantle had struggles after returning from injury, and earlier this offseason he was suspended for a short period of time. If Freemantle can keep distractions out of the way, Xavier will have one of the best frontcourts, and starting fives, in the country. Coach Sean Miller also brings in two uber-talented freshmen off the bench for the Muskies. Desmond Claude and Kam Craft will both play a lot of minutes early for the X. The rest of the bench includes the likes of Cesare Edwards, Dieonte Miles, Jerome Hunter and KyKy Tandy. All returning players that got minutes last season. Rounding out the rotation is sophomore transfer Elijah Tucker. The Musketeers are very deep and have tons of talent throughout their squad, a new coach and chemistry are their biggest question marks, but I still view them as the Big East's third best team and a quality seed in the NCAA Tournament.

4. UConn

UConn and Xavier is a toss-up and could realistically go either way, but I have the Huskies in fourth in the Big East. UConn brings in talented ECU transfer Tristen Newton to handle the point guard duties, and he is joined in the backcourt by former top recruit Jordan Hawkins. Hawkins struggled last year but showed flashes, which is why he is tabbed by many as a high breakout candidate. Big guard Andre Jackson will also be in the starting lineup, and head coach Dan Hurley stated that there will be times where he runs the point, Jackson is 6-7. UConn's center Adama Sanogo is one of the best bigs in the country and was listed as the Big East media day preseason player of the year. Sanogo is elite on both sides of the ball and will be a scary sight for most Big East opponents. Redshirt freshman Alex Karaban is expected to start at the 4 and round out the starting lineup. The first two men off the bench for the Huskies are talented transfers. Naheim Alleyne from Virginia Tech and Hassan Diarra from Texas A&M. Alleyne played 30+ minutes per game for the Hokies and is an all-around hooper, and Diarra was clogged in a stacked Texas A&M system, but is a great defender. The rest of the bench in Storrs consists of talented freshman Donovan Clingan, returnees Samson Johnson and Richie Springs, USD transfer Joey Calcaterra, and freshman Yarin Hasson. The talent is definitely there for the Huskies, but Hurley still needs to get over the coaching hump to make the most of this roster.

5. Saint John's

The hype for Saint John's has definitely calmed down since the start of the offseason, but the Red Storm are still very talented. Posh Alexander is the best perimeter defender in the country and an elite point guard. Joining him in the backcourt is 2021-22 preseason All-American Andre Curbello. Curbello was very disappointing at Illinois last season, but he dealt with injury, and still showed flashes. Seniors Montez Mathis and Joel Soriano return to play the 3 and the 5 respectively. At the 4 is one of the best pickups of the entire transfer portal, DePaul big David Jones. Jones was elite in Chicago last year and should take the next jump with Posh Alexander as his facilitator. Off the bench the Johnnies have returnees O'Mar Stanley, Dylan Addae-Wusu, Esahia Nyiwe, and Rafael Pinzon. As well as incoming freshmen AJ Storr, Kolby King, and Mohammed Keita. Redshirt freshman Drissa Traore rounds out the rotation. Saint John's certainly has the talent to reach the NCAA Tournament, but that possibility will rely on the coaching ability of Mike Anderson, whose seat is heating up. I project the Red Storm to make the tournament, but they are certainly not a lock to do so.

6. Providence

Providence shocked everyone last season by winning the Big East regular season title and going all the way to the Sweet 16 and falling to the eventual National Champions, but the Friars relied on a starting five of five seniors, who are all gone. On the bright side, BE 6MOY Jared Bynum is back and will man the point guard duties for a team desperately needing leadership. Bynum is a great ballplayer and leader that played starter minutes off the bench last season. The next 3 positions in the starting 5 are all transfers. The 2 guard will be handled by Louisville grad transfer Noah Locke. Locke can be inconsistent at times, but he is a quality shooter. At the 3 is South Carolina transfer Devin Carter. Carter is poised for a breakout sophomore season after putting up 9 and 4 in just 19 minutes a game last year. Power forward is former Kentucky top-recruit Bryce Hopkins. Hopkins got little pt last year, but shows promise. At the 5 is redshirt senior Ed Croswell. Croswell played just 15 minutes a game for the Friars last year but is a solid piece. The Providence bench consists of transfers Cory Floyd Jr. and Clifton Moore, as well as returnee Alyn Breed. Freshmen Jayden Pierre, Quante Berry, and Rafael Castro round out the roster. Providence will be a bubble team in 2022-23, but I believe that they will fall short of the tournament.

7. Butler

The Thad Matta era looks bright. Even though it has been five years since he last coached, Matta adapted quickly by snagging THREE starters from the transfer portal. Purdue transfer Eric Hunter Jr. will play the point and NC State transfer Manny Bates will play the five. There has been lots of buzz on the improvements from these two all offseason. Both elite defenders, if they made strides offensively, they will be scary. At the 2 is the Bulldogs best returning player, Chuck Harris. Harris averaged 11 PPG last year in 27 minutes a night. Sophomore Simas Lukosius will be the starting small forward, and he is ready to take the jump as a player. At the 4 is Akron transfer Ali Ali, who got tournament experience at Akron last year while averaging 14 and 3, and shooting 40% from beyond the arc. Off the bench the Bulldogs return Jayden Taylor, Myles Tate, Myles Wilmoth, DJ Hughes, and John-Michael Mulloy. Taylor played 24 minutes a game last year for the Dogs and averaged 8 a night. Butler also brings in Georgia State transfer Jalen Thomas, and freshmen Connor Turnbull and Pierce Thomas. They won't reach the tournament in year one, but new coach Thad Matta is undergoing a quick rebuild in Indy.

8. Seton Hall

Seton Hall brings in the most popular coach from the NCAA Tourney. Head coach Shaheen Halloway is the first coach to take a 15 seed to the elite 8, and he did it in style. Coach Sha brings Saint Peter's star KC Ndefo along with him to play the 4 for the Pirates. At the one is returnee Kadary Richmond. Richmond is a star in the making and will look to breakout for his junior season. At the 2 is Clemson transfer Al-Amir Dawes. Dawes played heavy minutes for the Tigers and averaged 11 PPG on great shooting splits. Louisville transfer Dre Davis will handle the small forward duties, and to close out the starting lineup, the Pirates have returnee Tyrese Samuel. Off the bench Seton Hall has three players returning that played 18+ minutes per game in 2021-22: Alexis Yetna, Tray Jackson, and Jamir Harris. The Pirates also bring in Pitt transfer Femi Odukale, Odukale played 32 MPG for Jeff Capel's squad, averaging 11 a night. Odukale is my early pick for Big East sixth man of the year. The rest of the rotation consists of freshmen Tae Davis, Jaquan Sanders, and JaQuan Harris, along with transfer Abdou Ndiaye from Illinois State. Year one may be tough for coach Sha, but if anyone can battle through adversity it's him. The depth is solid for the Pirates, and the guard play is above average in the power conferences.

9. Marquette

Shaka Smart has a lot on his plate for this upcoming season. Losing Justin Lewis and Darryl Morsell stings badly, but the Golden Eagles do return a lot of young talent. Junior point guard Tyler Kolek is an elite passer that played a ton of minutes last season. At the 2 is sophomore Kam Jones who will look to take on a lot of the load left behind by the two mentioned above. Another sophomore at the 3, David Joplin did not play many minutes last year, but he will be forced to step up early. Olivier-Maxence Prosper will start at the 4, and he too looks to be a breakout player. Rounding out the rotation is Oso Ighodaro. The bench consists of sophomore returnees Stevie Mitchell and Emarion Ellis, along with the NAIA NPOY in Zach Wrightsil. The rest of the squad is loaded with freshmen. Sean Jones, Chase Ross, Ben Gold, and Keeyan Itejere will likely play a decent chunk of time as freshmen. The roster is extremely young, with only one true senior in Wrightsil, who is yet to play a D1 game. A rebuild year is imminent in Milwaukee, and Shaka will focus on developing his young guys for the future.

10. Georgetown

Patrick Ewing will be starting a lineup that consists entirely of incoming transfers. Duquesne transfer Primo Spears and Boston College transfer Jay Heath make up the backcourt for the Hoyas. Both players played 28+ minutes last year and averaged upward of 10 a game. At the 3 is LSU transfer Brandon Murray. Murray was one of the best pickups in the entire portal. In his freshman year at LSU he played 31 minutes a game and averaged 10 points with great defense and a high motor. UConn transfer Akok Akok will be the power forward for the Hoyas, and he is joined by Qudus Wahab from Maryland in the frontcourt. Wahab led the Hoyas to the NCAA Tournament in 2020-21, but after transferring to in-state foe Maryland, he struggled. I assume Wahab will return back to his old ways with GTown and once again be a solid contributor. Off the bench the Hoyas have returnees Dante Harris, Ryan Mutombo, and Jordan Riley. As well as incoming transfers Bryson Mozone and Wayne Bristol Jr. Dante Harris played 32 minutes per game for Georgetown last season and should be a very good sixth man. Rounding out the rotation is incoming freshmen Denver Anglin and D'Ante Bass. GTown is much more talented than they were last season, but they still are not strong enough or coached well enough to compete in the Big East.

11. DePaul

DePaul has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2004. After losing their 2 stars in Javon Freeman-Liberty and David Jones, this year will certainly not be the year. On the bright side, Tony Stubblefield is getting talent to Chicago. USF transfer Caleb Murphy and Oklahoma transfer Umoja Gibson will be the starting backcourt for the Blue Demons. Gibson was Oklahoma's highest scorer last season, averaging 13.3 PPG with great shooting splits. Javan Johnson returns to play the 3 for the Blue Demons. Long Island transfer Eral Penn will start in the frontcourt, and is joined by Nick Ongenda. Jalen Terry off the bench for DePaul is very intriguing, but the rest of the bench is questionable. Returnees Yor Ani and Philmon Gebrewhit will be in the rotation, as well as transfers KT Raimey and Ahamad Bynum. Freshman Zion Cruz is the first freshman to commit to DePaul in 15 years, and should be a stud himself. Rounding out the rotation is JUCO transfer Da'Sean Nelson. The Blue Demons are in for another long year, but the guard play will be very fun to watch.


All Conference Teams

Photo by On3

Despite being the best conference in college basketball last year, the All-Big 12 teams were slightly underwhelming with stars compared to years past. That may be a product of elite team basketball and defense, but this year should consist of more star power as well.

All-Big East First Team

G - Posh Alexander - SJU

F - Cam Whitmore - NOVA

F - Arthur Kaluma - CRE

F - Adama Sanogo - UConn

C - Ryan Kalkbrenner - CRE

All-Big East Second Team

G - Jared Bynum - PC

G - Caleb Daniels - NOVA

G - Justin Moore - NOVA

F - Colby Jones - XU

C - Jack Nunge - XU

All-Big East Defensive Team

G - Posh Alexander - SJU

G - Kadary Richmond - SHU

F - KC Ndefo - SHU

F - Adama Sanogo - UConn

C - Ryan Kalkbrenner - CRE

All-Big East Freshman Team

G - Mark Armstrong - NOVA

G - Sean Jones - MU

G - Zion Cruz - DEP

G - Desmond Claude - XU

F - Cam Whitmore - NOVA


All Conference Awards

Photo by Frank Franklin II - AP

Big East Player of the Year

Posh Alexander - SJU

Big East Coach of the Year

Greg McDermott - CRE

Big East Sixth Man Award

Femi Odukale - SHU

Big East Newcomer of the Year Award

Tristen Newton - UConn

Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award

Ryan Kalkbrenner - CRE

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