clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Scouting Every Big East Team Entering Conference Play

New, 11 comments

The Big East could see more than half of the league make the NCAA tournament.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Big East play begins on Wednesday, and after a terrific non-conference portion of the schedule for most of the league there's plenty of buzz around the 10 teams. The conference has four teams ranked in the Top 17 of the AP poll, and more than half the league could be poised for postseason berths.

Eight teams will be in action on Wednesday and with the Big East ready to roll, here's an updated look at each school in the league:

VILLANOVA

Record: 12-0
Big wins: Purdue, Notre Dame
Bad losses: None
Scouting report: The Wildcats enter conference play as the consensus No. 1 team in the country. Jay Wright's crew has won 18-straight games dating back to last season and only two of their 12 wins have come by less than 10 points. Meanwhile, senior Josh Hart is the front runner for National Player of the Year. Despite a thin rotation due to the injury too Phil Booth, Villanova again looks like the team to beat in the conference.
Biggest surprise: Frontcourt play
Even with the ineligibility of freshman Omari Spellman, the Wildcats have not been burned in the frontcourt. Senior Daryl Reynolds has held his own, while Hart, Mikal Bridges, Kris Jenkins and Eric Paschall have all pitched in. In a road test against Purdue, one of the biggest teams in the country, Villanova came away with a win and confidence to prevail in similar situations.
Biggest disappointment: Kris Jenkins
It's hard to find any disappointments after such a strong start, but Jenkins isn't having the season many expected. Despite a bigger role, Jenkins' scoring is actually down (13.6 to 12.8 points per game), and he's shooting just 41 percent from the field. To achieve what Villanova wants this season, Jenkins will have to play better.

CREIGHTON

Record: 12-0
Big wins: Wisconsin, North Carolina State
Bad losses: None
Scouting report: After a down year last season, the Jays are ranked 10th in the country and are again an offensive power. Transfer Marcus Foster has entered with a bang, as he's at 19.1 ppg. Meanwhile, senior Marcus Watson Jr. is first in the conference at 9.0 apg. Oddly enough, their two closest games have been against UMKC and Oral Roberts.
Biggest surprise: Justin Patton
A freshman center, Patton has been an immediate presence. He's averaging 12.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for the Jays. A 7-foot Omaha native was a redshirt last season and the time to learn has clearly paid off.
Biggest disappointment: Isaiah Zierden
After averaging 10.2 ppg last season, Zeirden was expected to be a key contributor this season, but he has seemed to be the player that has been impacted the most with the addition of Foster. Zeirden is down to 5.1 ppg and is playing 12 less minute per game than last season.

BUTLER

Record: 11-1
Big wins: Arizona, Cincinnati, Indiana
Bad losses: Indiana State
Scouting report: Were it not for Butler's one-point loss to Indiana State, the Big East would probably have three top-10 teams right now. Still, the Bulldogs also probably have the best wins of any team in the conference. Despite the loss of several key veterans from last year's team, Butler keeps rolling behind Kelan Martin, who is averaging 18.8 ppg.
Biggest surprise: Defense
Despite many freshmen and underclassmen in the rotation, Butler's defense has come together quickly and been at the forefront of what they've been able to accomplish this season. The Bulldogs held Arizona and Cincinnati to 65 points each and are 34th in the country in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.
Biggest disappointment: Kethan Savage
A George Washington transfer, Savage was supposed to be a key contributor from Day 1 after averaging double-figures as a sophomore and junior with the Colonials. Instead, he's averaging just 12 minuter per game and 2.3 ppg. Savage missed the first four games of the season due to illness and has yet to find his groove.

XAVIER

Record: 10-2
Big wins: Clemson, Utah
Bad losses: None
Scouting report: With two losses already, Xavier seems like one of the more disappointing teams in the conference. They have yet to fully replace their great frontcourt from a season ago and seem to still be finding who they are. Trevon Blueitt, though, has emerged as one of the best players in the country and is averaging 19 ppg.
Biggest surprise: Trevon Blueitt
The Musketeers don't have many positive surprises, but Blueitt has been even better than anyone could have thought. He's as close to another Josh Hart in the conference as he's at 19 points and 5.6 boards per game. Blueitt has been in double-figures every game but one this season.
Biggest disappointment: Myles Davis
Xavier was really counting on Davis this season but he's yet to play a minute after being indefinitely suspended to start the year. The expectation is that he may be back soon, possibly even this week. Without Davis, the Musketeers won't be who they want to be this season.

SETON HALL

Record: 10-2
Big wins: South Carolina, California
Bad losses: None
Scouting report: Without Isaiah Whitehead, it's probably a surprise to some to see the Pirates playing so well. But here there entering Big East play on a hot streak, as they won all of their games in December. Seton Hall is again looking like an NCAA tournament team with a number of versatile offensive weapons.
Biggest surprise: Khadeen Carrington
Many people expected Carrington to be the one to try to fill Whitehead's shoes, and he's done that and then some. Carrington is averaging 19.3 ppg and has been in double-figures in every game this season. At this point, he's actually averaging more points than Whitehead did last season.
Biggest disappointment: Eron Gordon
To be honest, there aren't many Seton Hall disappointments right now. However, Sonogo was supposed to add some extra beef inside, and while he's contributing 7.1 rpg, he's not giving the Pirates much of anything offensively. To excel in conference play, he'll likely need to do more.

PROVIDENCE

Record: 10-3
Big wins: Rhode Island, Memphis
Bad losses: Boston College
Scouting report: Until last week's loss to Boston College, the Friars were probably the biggest surprise in the conference. Still, to be 10-3 without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil is quite an accomplishment. The way the team has made up for that is with a stellar defense, ranked 27th in defensive efficiency by KenPom.
Biggest surprise: Emmitt Holt
A non-factor in one season at Indiana, Holt has come to Providence and been the team's second most reliable player behind Rodney Bullock. He's averaging 14.3 ppg and has double-doubles in his last two games. Holt is one of the top newcomers in the conference.
Biggest disappointment: Isaiah Jackson
On the flip side, Jackson has been a transfer who has not yet made an impact for Providence. Coming from George Mason, Jackson showed significant promise as a freshman, but he's yet to do much for the Friars and hasn't topped seven points in a game. He's still young, but he might not be an impact player this season.

MARQUETTE

Record: 9-3
Big wins: None
Bad losses: None
Scouting report: The Golden Eagles really did nothing to improve or hurt their NCAA tournament chances during non-conference play, as they won the games they should and lost the games they shouldn't. So at this point, Marquette is probably the biggest mystery in the conference. Signs point to an improved team, as it is ranked 22nd nationally in offensive efficiency according to KenPom.
Biggest surprise: Sam Hauser
A four-star recruit, Hauser has done everything and more as a freshman. The forward is at 9.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. If you exclude a zero-point, five-foul dud vs. Wisconsin, he averaged 15 ppg and 6.8 rpg in December.
Biggest disappointment: Andrew Rowsey
The former UNC-Asheville player is another example of the volatility of transfers. He averaged over 19 ppg in two seasons before transferring but is only at 9.1 ppg so far this season. On the positive side, much of this is because of a slow start and Rowsey has shown much better signs of late.

GEORGETOWN

Record: 8-4
Big wins: Oregon, Syracuse
Bad losses: Arkansas State
Scouting report: There were thoughts that this would finally be the year that Georgetown would be a contender in the new Big East, but so far the Hoyas look very similar to last season. Their inconsistency is best summed up in back-to-back games of losing to Arkansas State and beating Oregon. In a positive sign moving forward, Georgetown enters conference play on a six-game win streak.
Biggest surprise: Akoy Agau
A clear cut non-factor at Louisville (he scored 17 points over two seasons), Agau has settled into a rotation role for Georgetown. Overall, most of Georgetown's players have been exactly what has been expected, so finding a surprise is a tough task.
Biggest disappointment: Isaiah Copeland
After a strong sophomore year, Copeland was supposed to be a huge part of Georgetown's plans this season. Instead he averaged 5.4 ppg and is now transferring. He's another example of some recent struggles for the Hoyas to develop post players.

DEPAUL

Record: 7-6
Big wins: None
Bad losses: Illinois-Chicago, Wyoming, Missouri State
Scouting report: Not much has changed for DePaul, who did more bad than good in the non-conference schedule and comes into Wednesday's game 2-4 in their last six games. The Blue Demons will struggle to beat any team besides St. John's in conference play.
Biggest surprise: Eli Cain
Probably the lone bright spot so far this season for DePaul has been the play of Cain, who is averaging 18.2 ppg. Cain already has a 31-point game this season and has emerged as one of the conference's top scorers. Of course, his play is likely the result of some one needing to score on the roster.
Biggest disappointment: Everything else
DePaul was expected to be bad but not this bad. According to KenPom, the Blue Demons are the worst major conference team in the country. In fact, they are ranked behind Gardner Webb, Santa Clara and Jacksonville.

ST. JOHN'S

Record: 6-7
Big wins: Syracuse
Bad losses: Delaware State, LIU-Brooklyn
Scouting report: The Red Storm were supposed to show some signs of life this season but instead look pretty similar to last season. It's a young, inconsistent group that has showed promise but can't seem to put things together. A 33-point win against Syracuse last week suggests things might be finally coming together.
Biggest surprise: Shamorie Ponds
Although he was a four-star recruit, not many people expected Ponds to be this good this quickly. He leads the team at 17.2 ppg and is even contributing 5.5 rpg. Along with Marcus LoVett, the Red Storm have a dynamic young backcourt.
Biggest disappointment: Kassoum Yawke
If the Red Storm was going to take a step forward this season, Yawke was one of those young players that needed to take a step forward. He's down to 4.6 ppg after 7.1 last season. So far this season he's yet to score above eight points in a game.