Tag: Creighton

2018-2019 Big East Preview

Preseason Player of the Year:

Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s

Preseason All-Conference Team:

Kamar Baldwin, Butler

Jessie Govan, Georgetown

Markus Howard, Marquette

Eric Paschall, Villanova

Shamorie Ponds, St John’s

Preseason Newcomer of the Year:

Mustapha Heron, St. John’s

Projected Order of Finish:

1. Villanova

The defending national champs lost quite a bit from the championship team, but it appears that head coach Jay Wright has reloaded. Senior forward Eric Paschall is an all-American candidate and he’ll be the leader of the squad along with senior guard Phil Booth. To bolster the two seniors is a top-15 recruiting class featuring Jahvon Quinerly, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater and Saddiq Bey as well as Albany grad transfer Joe Cremo. There is plenty here to continue the Wildcats’ dominance of the Big East.

2. Marquette

This will be one of the highest-scoring teams in America. Led by juniors Markus Howard, Sam Hauser and Sacar Anim, the Golden Eagles should make their return to the NCAA tournament this season. They do have to repair their issues on the defensive end, but if they’re at least competent there I don’t see many teams that’ll be able to keep up with them.

3. St. John’s

This has to be the year for the Red Storm. This is by far the most talented team head coach Chris Mullin has had at St. John’s and its quite possibly the best roster in the league. Junior guard Shamorie Ponds is the favorite for Big East Player of the Year, but there will be plenty of talent around him in senior forward Marvin Clark II and junior guards Justin Simon and Mustapha Heron. Chemistry could derail this train, but St. John’s has too much talent to miss the tournament.

4. Providence

Head coach Ed Cooley continues to recruit at a high level and is doing more reloading than rebuilding these days. The Friars will have quality experience in their backcourt with junior Alpha Diallo and senior Isaiah Jackson. Senior forward Emmitt Holt appears to be healthy after missing last season. Freshmen A.J. Reeves, David Duke and Jimmy Nichols along with sophomores Nate Watson and Makai Ashton-Langford will be key piece of Providence’s future.

5. Butler

When speaking about the Bulldogs the “Butler Way” is the phrase that is often used, but it’s a real thing. LaVall Jordan stepped right in and got Butler back to the tournament last season and it would be foolish to think they won’t do it again. Sophomore Big East Player of the Year candidate Kamar Baldwin leads a team that’ll expect Duke transfer Jordan Tucker to be an instant contributor. Senior guard Paul Jorgensen returns as well, but sophomore guard Aaron Thompson’s jumper will be important to how far Butler goes this season.

6. Xavier

The Musketeers lost quite a bit last season from Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and Karem Kanter as players to Chris Mack as head coach. Travis Steele takes over for Mack and has junior guard Quentin Goodin and sophomore forward Naji Marshall to move the program forward. Transfers Ryan Welage, Kyle Castlin and Zach Hankins will have to contribute as well.

7. Georgetown

Patrick Ewing appears to have the program headed in the right direction in his second year, but that progress was slowed a little bit when Marcus Derrickson decided to leave school early. The Hoyas still have senior all-conference candidate Jessie Govan along with sophomores Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair. The backcourt was upgraded with freshmen James Akinjo and Mac McClung. The future is bright, but not enough to compete for the tournament this season.

8. Seton Hall

Seton Hall’s famed class featuring Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo have all graduated and now junior guard Myles Powell is left to lead the program. Transfers Quincy McKnight and Taurean Thompson will have to be ready help Powell for the Pirates to see if they can continue this run.

9. Creighton

Injuries have dealt the Blue Jays a tough blow the past few seasons, but this year the struggles will be because they’ve lost talents like Marcus Foster, Khyri Thomas and Toby Hegner. Junior forward Martin Krampelj’s health is also a concern. There just isn’t the caliber of players here that coach Greg McDermott has been accustomed to since Creighton moved to the Big East.

10.DePaul

The Blue Demons still are just trying to find their footing in the Big East. This year they’ll have a senior backcourt of Eli Cain and Max Strus to help try to usher them out of the cellar of the Big East. Transfers Jalen Coleman-Lands and Femi Olujobi enter the program to assist with that process. They’re playing in a new arena and have a promising recruiting class coming next season and it appears it’ll be then when we can expect a jump from this program.

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More Conference Tournament Previews

WEST COAST: This one is academic.  There is one team in this league that will potentially be a No. 1 seed and then there is one team who may get an at-large bid.  Gonzaga went 16-0 in league play this year with some really impressive victories.  In Las Vegas this weekend, I can’t see anyone beating the Bulldogs on a neutral floor.  Saint Mary’s is playing for its NCAA tournament life, but I don’t think it will be enough to overcome the talent Gonzaga has.

NORTHEAST: Robert Morris finished two games ahead of the crowded bunch of teams which includes Wagner, Bryant and Long Island University.  In fact, the top seven finishers in the NEC finished .500 or above so I expect this to be one of the craziest conference tournaments in all of college basketball.  In a situation like this I give the edge to a team that’s been there before and that team is LIU.  The Blackbirds know how to navigate this tournament and I expect them to go dancing again.

PATRIOT LEAGUE: This year was supposed to be nothing short of a coronation for Lehigh.  However, C.J. McCollum injured his foot and Lehigh wasn’t able to sustain early season success.  One school that has been able to is Bucknell.  The Bison have lost only two games in conference play and five overall and since this tournament is played on the home court of the higher seeded team, I’d say its the heavy favorite to win this tournament.

MISSOURI VALLEY: The eyes of the nation were on Creighton and Wichita St in the Missouri Valley this season.  While many expected the two to dominate; history tells us that this conference has been known to eat its own and that’s why Indiana St’s at-large hopes have gone up in smoke.  This is always one of the more competitive tournaments and this year should be no different.  I expect one of the hottest teams in the league to shock the world.  Evansville will cut down the nets in St. Louis.

More Conference Tournament Predictions

PATRIOT LEAGUE: Defending champion Bucknell was rolling along in the Patriot League until mid-February when two losses tarnished its perfect league record.  The fact that one of those loses came to second-place finisher Lehigh at home would make me extremely nervous if I were a Bison fan.  For that reason, and the fact that the Mountain Hawks have been just as good, I’m taking Lehigh to go dancing.

WEST COAST: Saint Mary’s won the league outright in a minor upset.  However the Gaels finished just one game ahead of Gonzaga and two ahead of BYU.  This will be a competitive tournament with the four teams having a legitimate shot at cutting down the nets in Las Vegas.  BYU in its first season in the WCC is used to playing in Vegas, is relatively close to Vegas and will take the matter out of the committee’s hands by winning the WCC championship.

MISSOURI VALLEY: Wichita St and Creighton has been the class of the Missouri Valley this season, but this is a tournament that has seen its fair share of upsets over the years.  That being said I find it very hard to pick against the Shockers the way they’re playing right now.  I expect them to beat a scrappy Missouri St team in the finals.

NORTHEAST: Wagner got everyone’s attention in December after it upset Pittsburgh.  The Seahawks followed that with an impressive conference record of 15-3.  The problem though is that two of those losses came at the hands of the regular season and defending tournament champion Long Island.  The Blackbirds wouldn’t have to play Wagner or Robert Morris until the finals and will play every game of the tournament at home.  I like them to repeat.

AMERICA EAST: This will be a good one.  I would not be surprised if regular season champion Stony Brook, Vermont or 2011 NCAA tournament team Boston University won this tournament.  I think Vermont is due for the win I thought they’d get last season.  The Catamounts are going dancing.

Weekend Bracket 2/18-2/19

Quick Notes:

I can’t remember when BracketBuster games were more important.  Saint Mary’s vs. Murray St is probably the marquee matchup as both teams badly need to win.  I can say the same about Creighton, but Long Beach St may solidify an at-large berth with a win.  CAA can make a big move as a conference with a good weekend.

Watch Loyola Marymount as a potential at-large candidate

Last Four In: Northwestern, Miami(FL), Illinois, NC State

Last Four Out: Minnesota, Washington, UCF, St. Josephs

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Vermont/Savannah St Louisville

8.Purdue9.West Virginia

5.Wichita St12.Kansas St Nashville

4.Temple13.Middle Tennessee St

6.San Diego St11.Seton Hall Portland

3.Michigan14.Belmont

7.St. Mary’s10.Iowa St Greensboro

2.North Carolina15.Valparaiso

WEST

1.Ohio St16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.Saint Louis9.Virginia

5.UNLV12.Alabama Albuquerque

4.Notre Dame13.Long Beach St

6.Vanderbilt11.Illinois/Miami(FL) Columbus

3.Georgetown14.Iona

7.Memphis10.Harvard Omaha

2.Kansas15.Bucknell

MIDWEST

1.Missouri16.UNC-Asheville/Mississippi Valley St Omaha

8.California9.Southern Miss

5.Louisville12.NC State/Northwestern Portland

4.Gonzaga13.Nevada

6.Florida St11.Texas Louisville

3.Marquette14.Akron

7.Creighton10.Cincinnati Columbus

2.Michigan St15.Weber St

EAST

1.Syracuse16.UT-Arlington Pittsburgh

8.Murray St9.BYU

5.Indiana12.Xavier Nashville

4.Florida13.Oral Roberts

6.Wisconsin11.Connecticut Albuquerque

3.Baylor14.Davidson

7.New Mexico10.Mississippi St Greensboro

2.Duke15.Drexel

In Graphical Form

Anthony Davis’ Block Party

Kentucky's Anthony Davis (23) and Kentucky's Terrence Jones (3) block a shot by South Carolina's Damien Leonard (32) during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Columbia, S.C. (Mary Ann Chastain, Associated Press)

There’s a lot people can say about the way John Calipari has built his program at Kentucky.  You can say he’s running a factory for pros.  But right now, you can say he has the No. 1 team in the nation and a large part is because of freshman Anthony Davis.

Davis, a likely first-team all-American and candidate for national player of the year is setting records for the Wildcats on the defensive end.  Davis broke Shaquille O’Neal’s record for blocks by a SEC freshman and still has plenty of ball to come.  Right now Davis has 127 blocks, which is a staggering number for anyone.

The Wildcats’ great defense doesn’t end with Davis though.  Fellow freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may be the best overall defender on the team with other athletic guys like Terrance Jones and Doron Lamb who compete on that end of the floor as well.

This is Calipari’s best team since he’s been at Kentucky.  He may give Big Blue Nation the championship it so desperately craves.

Stock Up: Wichita St.  The entire country spent the first three months of the season praising Creighton and rightfully so.  However, if you look at the Missouri Valley Conference standings now you’d see that it’s Wichita St that has a two-game lead on the rest of league.  The Shockers went to Omaha on Saturday and dismantled the Blue Jays, sending a message to the country that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in March.

Stock Down: The leaders in the Horizon League.  Valparaiso and Cleveland St are solid teams with some big non-conference wins.  I have no faith that either one of these two will win the Horizon League tournament.  Cleveland St lost two games last week and Valparaiso, who beat Cleveland St last week, lost it’s next game to Youngstown St.  These two are showing me that they can’t handle success and with the fact that Butler is lurking doesn’t bode well for the Horizon leaders.

Stock Up: Michigan St.  Tom Izzo is at it again.  His team went into Columbus and beat Ohio St.  Izzo, in my opinion, is the best coach in the country and he has a team with chemistry this year.  An Izzo team that has talent and chemistry can do a lot of damage down the stretch.

Stock Down: Pitt.  I praised the Panthers last week, but they promptly went out and lost two games – effectively ending any hopes of an at-large bid.  They need to string a bunch of wins together and last week wasn’t just a speed bump, it was a mountain.  The Panthers will have to win the Big East tournament to get a bid.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Minnesota, Northwestern, NC State, Texas
Last Four Out: Seton Hall, UCF, Wyoming, Washington

Good for games through of 2/12

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Stony Brook/Norfolk St Louisville

8.Murray St9.West Virginia

5.San Diego St12.Xavier Portland

4.Michigan13.Long Beach St

6.Wichita St11.Illinois Columbus

3.Georgetown14.Valparaiso

7.Vanderbilt10.Purdue Greensboro

2.North Carolina15.Belmont

WEST

1.Ohio St16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.Iowa St9.Southern Miss

5.St. Mary’s12.Miami(FL) Nashville

4.Louisville13.Nevada

6.Wisconsin11.Cincinnati Albuquerque

3.Baylor14.Iona

7.Mississippi St10.Saint Louis Greensboro

2.Duke15.Bucknell

MIDWEST

1.Missouri16.UNC-Asheville/Mississippi Valley St Omaha

8.California9.New Mexico

5.Notre Dame12.NC State/Minnesota Portland

4.Gonzaga13.Oral Roberts

6.Florida St11.Alabama  Louisville

3.Marquette14.Akron

7.Memphis10.Kansas St Columbus

2.Michigan St15.Weber St

EAST

1.Syracuse16.UT-Arlington Pittsburgh

8.Creighton9.BYU

5.Temple12.Texas/Northwestern  Nashville

4.Florida13.Middle Tennessee St

6.Indiana11.Connecticut Albuquerque

3.UNLV14.Davidson

7.Virginia10.Harvard Omaha

2.Kansas15.Drexel

In Graphical Form