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Big East Power Rankings and Thoughts: Week 0

Every week, I'll be bringing you everything you need to know about the Big East. From power rankings and awards to thoughts on the conference and games you can't miss, this is your weekly one-stop-shop for all your Big East basketball needs.

Ed Cooley and Greg McDermott at Big East Media Day. (Photo by Will Tondo.)

College basketball is finally back, and it is a new day in the Big East. The conference looks a lot different than it did at this point last year. No more Jay Wright or Collin Gillespie. Farewell to Julian Champagnie and Justin Lewis and R.J. Cole and Paul Scruggs. Goodbye to Nate Watson and the entire starting five from the Friars.

While a lot of talent may be leaving, the conference seems to be adjusting to the transfer portal era well to fill in the gaps. Six Big East schools ranked in the top 25 of the 247Sports transfer rankings. That includes Georgetown at No. 4 and Providence at No. 7, giving the conference two schools in the top ten. Creighton (15), UConn (18), St. John's (19), and Butler (21) round out the rest of the group. Add in Villanova (18), Xavier (37), and Seton Hall (45) with top-50 recruiting classes, and the future of the Big East is looking great.

Power Rankings

As voted on by our staff weekly. First-place votes are in parentheses.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 1

We agreed with the Big East coaches on this one. With a host of young talent returning

from a team that made the Big East Championship and the addition of our Preseason Transfer of the Year, Baylor Scheierman, it is easy to see why the Bluejays are on top here. Still, I had Creighton in second on my ballot. They're relying on a lot of internal improvement, and just one of these rising sophomores not meeting expectations could make Big East play harder than some expect. This team should be a top team in the conference with eyes on a deep tournament run in March, and hopefully April.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 3

The retirement of Jay Wright dropped Villanova outside the top two in the Preseason Coaches Poll for the first time in the new Big East. We won't give Kyle Neptune that same disrespect, putting the 'Cats in second. Losing Wright and Collin Gillespie isn't easy, but a returning veteran core of Dixon, Slater, and Daniels should help hold the ship down until Justin Moore returns from an Achilles injury. Six of their underclassmen were four-star recruits or better and will help round out the team. That includes the Preseason Freshman of the Year and projected future lottery pick, Cam Whitmore, who will miss some time to start the year with a thumb injury. Having that much talent should make things easier for first-year head coach Kyle Neptune. That's why I had the Cats back at the top.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 4

Dan Hurley's team ended last season in disappointment, bowing out of March Madness early at the hands of a double-digit seed for the second straight year. I like the moves he made this offseason to rectify that. This is a team that should be able to shoot and space the floor around their Preseason Player of the Year in the middle while still retaining a stingy defensive identity. The Huskies start the year just outside the top 25, but I don't expect it will take long for them to get there. Once ranked, they should be a poll mainstay this season.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 2

The coaches are high on Xavier heading into next season, and it is easy to see why. This is the same core that won the NIT last season, now with a better coach. Unfortunately, that cuts both ways. It is also the same group that struggled down the stretch, minus a few key contributors in the backcourt. That explains why the coaches may see this team as a challenger to win the Big East, while the AP Poll sees the Musketeers as the fourth best team in the conference. Only eight of its 62 voters ranked Xavier. The ceiling is high on Victory Parkway, but there are serious questions about both playmaking and interior defense.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 5

Reigning Naismith Coach of the Year Ed Cooley may be lower on his own Friars than any other Big East coach. He has stressed that his group has work to do all offseason, as can be expected of a group trying to replace all five starters. This team has talent thanks to the efforts Cooley made in the transfer portal, highlighted by former top-50 recruit Bryce Hopkins. Putting that talent together will be the biggest question to monitor. Thankfully for Friar fans, an easy non-conference schedule and back-loaded Big East slate should give this group time to come together.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 7

It's Sha-time in Newark! Under the new head coach, expect the Pirates to be a defensive force. This team has ten upperclassmen and just three underclassmen, all of them freshmen. It is a veteran group with a lot of length and muscle that should make life difficult for every offense that faces it. You'll want to bet the under when Seton Hall is playing.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 6

It was a big offseason in Queens, with the Red Storm stealing away a pair of highly touted players from the Midwest - including forward David Jones from Big East rival DePaul. This team should continue to be a menace with the press and high-tempo attack. How this offense will work in the half-court, though, with two point guards who can't shoot on the floor together, I don't know. This team was not good from deep last year, and it lost four of its five best perimiter shooters. While there is something to be said for continuity with much of this lineup, I'm not sold on it being any better than what we saw last season.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 8

This is where my personal ballot differs most from our consensus. I put the Bulldogs fifth due to what should be drastically improved shooting and interior defense, plus a great new head coach. Their performance in the first exhibition had me nervous, but things settled down in the second one. This backcourt needs to find consistency, but it features five different guards who have hit the 20-point mark in a college game. If Manny Bates can be one of the best front-court players in the conference right away, look out for a Butler team that should play really good defense with a rotating cast of scorers.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 9

I'm not sure if it's worth writing this section, as it has been made crystal clear the Golden Eagles don't care about your preseason rankings. They turned ninth into fifth thanks to a hot stretch in January last year. I don't know if this group will be able to do it again, but I do think you can count this team in with Seton Hall as defensive teams that will make every game hard. Unlike Seton Hall, though, this team is very young. Zach Wrightsil is the only senior, and this roster is chalk-full of underclassmen. That likely means some unexpected wins and losses.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 10

This year's Hoyas have a significantly different roster than the version that went 0-19 in Big East play. Managing this many newcomers - nine in total - will be a challenge for Patrick Ewing. This team should be significantly better than it was last year, though. The problem is that even a big jump can result in a team under .500 in the Big East and well short of the Big Dance. Having obvious improvement will be critical, because any situation that involves the departure of Ewing will be uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Big East Coaches' ranking: 11

The departure of breakout star David Jones to St. John's really hurts. Tony Stubblefield seemingly has things headed in the right direction otherwise. With Jalen Terry, Umoja Gibson, and Caleb Murphy in the backcourt, the Blue Demons have potential to be fun this season. This certainly isn't a bad team. It just lacks to kind of star talent found around the rest of the conference. Freshman Zion Cruz is a name to watch here as they try to get the program on the right track going forward.


Preseason Awards

Player of the Year: Adama Sanogo, F, UConn

Big East Coaches pick: Sanogo

This one seems obvious. Almost too obvious. That's why my vote went to Creighton big man Ryan Kalkbrenner. With Justin Moore working his way back from injury, Sanogo will be the conference's top returner in points per game. Combine that with a team built around spacing the floor and keeping him fresh, and things seem to be lining up for him. Between Sanogo, Kalkbrenner, and Xavier's Jack Nunge, this seems to be trending toward a big man award this season.

Freshman of the Year: Cam Whitmore, F, Villanova

Big East Coaches' pick: Whitmore

This was a nearly unanimous pick. Whitmore is projected to be a lottery pick next spring. There are other freshmen in the conversation, like DePaul's Zion Cruz or Xavier's Desmond Claude, but this is Whitmore's to lose.

Transfer of the Year: Baylor Scheierman, F, Creighton

With the veteran talent joining the conference, we thought this award was necessary. Scheierman was one of the top guys in the portal, and he should provide an immediate impact for the Big East favorite as a scorer and passer. While he got my vote, several writers on our staff nominated Providence's Bryce Hopkins who seems poised to have a breakout season. Keep an eye on him as well.

Coach of the Year: Greg McDermott, Creighton

McDermott has done a fantastic job of assembling a roster in Omaha. His team is loaded with talent, and should it reach its potential, McDermott will win this award in the spring. That said, with four new coaches in the conference, this is an open competition. Should any of those teams outperform expectations, the frontrunner probably changes here.


Five Thoughts

  1. Wounded Cats. Cam Whitmore. Justin Moore. Caleb Daniels. Trey Patterson. Those were the Wildcats on the sidelines due to injury just one month before the first game. Daniels (broken nose) and Patterson (sports hernia) are expected to return before the opening tip. Whitmore (right thumb) will be reevaluated in early November while Moore (Achilles) still doesn't have a timeline to return. Villanova enters this season banged up, and the team we see on opening night should be very different from the one on the court in March.

  2. Injuries to Monitor. Andre Jackson, Caleb Murphy, Jalen Thomas, and Ali Ali are the other big health situations around the Big East to keep an eye on. UConn's Jackson fractured his right pinky and had surgery to repair the finger. The team hopes he'll be ready by the game against Oregon on Thanksgiving. DePaul's Murphy had wrist surgery and will be reevaluated in late November or early December. Butler's Thomas suffered a pulmonary embolism and could return early in Big East play, while Ali suffered a concussion and had to have nasal surgery.

  3. Monday Opener. If you thought it was a little weird for the season to be starting on a Monday instead of a Tuesday, you were on to something. To avoid Election Day, many teams opted to schedule their openers on November 7th instead. Eight Big East teams open on Monday, with FS1 providing whip-around coverage of all eight games once again. Providence and Georgetown are the only teams from the conference in action on Election Day, while Seton Hall's opener is on Wednesday.

  4. Tuning Up. There are 21 Big East games scheduled for the first week of the season; not one of them comes against a power conference opponent. One-third of those games are against teams outside the top 300, with only one game scheduled against a top-100 team. More on that later. Every Big East team will get two games this week before the Gavitt Games next week except for Butler, which only plays once.

  5. New for 2022. UConn's opener on Monday will also mark Stonehill's first men's basketball game in Division I. The Skyhawks are one of five new teams in D-I this season, taking the total up to 363. Teams aren't the only new thing for this season, with a rule change making flopping a technical foul set to debut on Monday as well. I'm curious to see how much this gets called. We are certain to see some hiccups ironed out in real time, too.


Game of the Week

Every week, our staff will be picking our most anticipated game. If you only have chance to watch one game, this is the one you'll want to set aside some time for.

Seton Hall vs. Saint Peter's - Saturday, November 12; 12:00 p.m. ET; FS2

While this may not be the most compelling game - KenPom gives the Pirates a 93 percent chance of victory - it does have the most interesting story. New Seton Hall head coach Shaheen Holloway will face off against his former team, the one he took on a magical run last March. Local rivals, these two schools have played one another 88 times dating back to 1932. Seton Hall holds 64-24 record and won the last meeting in 2017, but the Pirates' winning streak is only three games long thanks to an overtime upset by the Peacocks in 2013. Desi Washington was the star in that one with 34 points.

Honorable mention: Villanova at Temple, Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET. This is the only Big East game this week against a preseason KenPom top-100 opponent, and it is also Kyle Neptune's first road game. The Wildcats will be down a few key players, so winning this is far from a guarantee. Find it on ESPNU.


Quote of the Week

"We've gone from Jay Wright to Dumb and Dumber."


Don't Miss...

... this analysis on the preseason AP Top 25 from our own Zach Penrice.

... this article on three games to watch this week from our own Ryan Cassidy.

... this analysis of teams leaping into the top 10 by Three Man Weave's Jim Root.

... this article on Xavier's Souley Boum and his journey from's Adam Baum.

... this look at Shaheen Holloway's welcome back to the Big East from Asbury Park Press's Jerry Carino.

... this piece on the loss of Jay Wright from Providence's perspective from The Providence Journal's Bill Koch.

... this analysis on KenPom's preseason rankings from Paint Touches' Andrei Greska.

... this Big East preview from CBS Sports's Matt Norlander.

... this Big East preview from ESPN's staff.

Make Sure...

... to subscribe to our podcast on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever else you get your podcasts!

... to follow us on Twitter for all the best Big East content!

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