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Big East Preview (Part 3): Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Xavier

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Rounding out our Big East previews, we look at the two biggest challengers for Villanova’s Big East crown.

Seton Hall v Arkansas Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Over the past few days, we’ve be previewed the other nine Big East schools for the 2017-18 season. On our final day, we preview the Seton Hall Pirates, the St. John’s Red Storm, and the Xavier Musketeers.


Seton Hall

Head Coach: Kevin Willard
Previous Season Record: 21-12, 10-8 Big East -- Lost to Arkansas in NCAA First Round
Key Players: #31 Angel Delgado (6-9, 230) Sr., F; #0 Khadeen Carrington (6-3, 180) Sr., G; #20 Desi Rodriguez (6-6, 215) Sr., F
Key Departures: Madison Jones

Seton Hall v Arkansas Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Outlook: Angel Delgado decided to stay in school for his senior season, and the Pirates are set to benefit in a big way. Delgado averaged over 15 points and 13 rebounds last year, and he may be set to top those numbers this season. Delgado will likely be a preseason All-American, and could be a POY candidate.

Along with fellow seniors Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez, this trio makes Seton Hall one of the biggest threats to Villanova’s streak of Big East titles. Last year was the first season since conference realignment that Villanova didn’t lose a game to the Pirates, but the two teams played a memorable BET Semi-final game that Nova only won by two. I don’t think anyone would be shocked if these two teams ended up playing in the BET for a third consecutive season, possibly for the championship.


St. John’s

Head Coach: Chris Mullin
Previous Season Record: 14-19, 7-11 Big East -- Lost to Villanova in BET Quarterfinal
Key Players: #2 Shamorie Ponds (6-1, 170) So., G; #15 Marcus LoVett (6-0, 175) So., G; #1 Bashir Ahmed (6-7, 210) Sr., G
Key Departures: Federico Mussini, Malik Ellison, Yankuba, Sima, Darien Williams

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-St. John's vs Villanova Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Outlook: Despite having four players leave or transfer last season, St. John’s may have done some addition through subtraction. Led by a pair of young studs in sophomore guards Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett, the Red Storm has the pieces in place to possibly turn the corner and give head coach Chris Mullin his first winning season.

Senior wing Bashir Ahmed and junior center Tariq Owens provide additional reasons for optimism. No one’s picking this team to win the Big East, and an NCAA tournament bid may be a stretch as well. But make no mistake, the arrow is pointing up for the Red Storm.


Xavier

Head Coach: Chris Mack
Previous Season Record: 24-14, 9-9 Big East -- Lost to Gonzaga in NCAA Elite 8
Key Players: #5 Trevon Bluiett (6-6, 215) Sr., G; #55 J.P. Macura (6-5, 190) Sr., G; #54 Sean O’Mara (6-10, 247) Sr., F
Key Departures: RaShid Gaston, Edmond Sumner, Malcolm Bernard

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Florida State vs Xavier Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Outlook: After an unexpected Elite 8 run last season, Xavier is looking to build off of that deep postseason surge for 2017-18. Sure, it no longer has star point guard Edmond Sumner anymore, but as we all saw last year—Trevon Bluiett can singlehandedly carry a team. Bluiett averaged 18.5 points per game last season and has been Xavier’s leading scorer since he first arrived. Expect his name to be in the Big East Player of the Year conversation.

Aside from Bluiett, Xavier has another nice scoring option in J.P. Macura, whose 3-point shooting has fallen off a bit over the last couple of years, but he still manages to find a way to score at a nice clip. Also keep an eye out for Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodin. O’Mara got some burn at the end of the season and really stepped up. He had 18 points and seven rebounds in the upset win over Maryland. Meanwhile, Goodin was Sumner’s replacement at point guard after his injury and now that he’s had an offseason to prepare for the increased workload, he’ll be even better.