Tag: St. John’s

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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What will the committee do with UCF?

 

bj taylor mercer
(Jason Beede – 247Sports)

 

This was the most anticipated regular season in UCF basketball history. After making it to the NIT final four, many predicted the Knights may challenge for the school’s first at-large bid ever. However, the injury bug hit the Knights and derailed their plans a bit.

First there was the injury to junior guard Aubrey Dawkins in the preseason and then in the first game of the season; the team’s best returning player, junior guard B.J. Taylor, went down with a foot injury. Taylor is expected to return soon, but the question now is how will the NCAA selection committee evaluate the Knights?

UCF is currently 9-4 after last night’s 56-51 loss at SMU. It was the fifth RPI top-50 opponent UCF has faced without Taylor. They’re 1-4 in those games with the lone win coming at Alabama. They are projected to have a top-65 non-conference strength of schedule nationally and they get another shot at SMU, plus round-robins with Temple, Cincinnati, and Wichita St with another game with Houston at home.

Will the committee punish them for not doing better in the non-conference without Taylor or will it judge them for what they are with Taylor? They’re certainly a different team as Taylor presents a significant scoring option for one of the best defensive teams in the country.

As long as the Knights do as well in the American as expected, some interesting decisions will be made by the committee leading up to Selection Sunday.

Other Notes:

Despite losing its head coach, Tyler Lewis, Kethan Savage, Avery Woodson and Andrew Chrabascz off of last year’s Sweet 16 team, Butler finds itself squarely in the discussion for another at-large bid. That’s because it challenged itself with a top-40 schedule and has solid wins over Ohio St and Utah. The Bulldogs are projected to have a top-20 strength of schedule by the time the season’s over. A 9–9 or 10-8 record in the Big East will probably be enough for them to get in.

Some will overreact to San Diego State’s loss at Wyoming last night. I won’t. That’s an in-conference loss to a RPI top-100 team. It’s not a bad loss and, long term, it’s not a damaging loss to their at-large hopes. They’re not in great shape right now, but they shouldn’t be panicking over bracketology at this point either.

Tonight’s Providence-St. John’s game is huge for both teams, but probably moreso for the Red Storm as Chris Mullin tries to make his first NCAA tournament. Right now, they appear to be the better team than the Friars and with road games with Seton Hall and Creighton to follow, losing this one could very well lead to a 0-3 start for St. John’s.

Swamp Things

Florida point guard Erving Walker does everything for the Gators

After a slow start to the season, the Florida Gators have distanced themselves from the pack in the SEC East. Tied for the overall lead in the league, they have easily been the most impressive team thus far in the SEC.

Billy Donovan seems to finally getting his program back the level it enjoyed when it won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007. He’s getting a balanced attack that is proving a difficult task for opponents to guard.

Erving Walker leads the team with 14.8 points per game, but gets plenty of help from Kenny Boynton, Vernon Macklin and Chandler Parsons who score about 35 points per game together. They’re an experienced group that has been through the rigors of the SEC before and want to return the program to glory.

Despite the success though, now is not the time for the Gators to rest on their laurels. Their final four games of the season all look to challenge their stranglehold on the standings. Home games against Georgia and Alabama along with trips to Kentucky and Vanderbilt will test the Gators. Time to see how bad the Gators’ bite is.

Stock Up: St. John’s. About 3 weeks ago, the Red Storm was the quintessential bubble team. Now, it looks like the only way it doesn’t make the NCAA tournament is if its canceled. St. John’s has beaten Duke, Georgetown, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut. At this point, it looks like they may be just playing for seeding now.

Stock Down: Missouri Valley Conference. The MVC’s showing in BracketBusters this weekend was very dissapointing. The conference did harbor some hopes to be a multiple bid league before the weekend, but after its three best teams lost in national TV games, those hopes are dashed. I’m used to seeing this as one of the best mid-major leagues, but it is truly a down year in the Valley.

Stock Up: Cliff Ellis. Here is a man in charge of a team that won the regular season title in the Big South last season, but was upset in the conference tournament. His Coastal Carolina squad is dominating the regular season again, but lost it’s starting point guard to a torn knee ligament. Then it found out leading scorer Desmond Holloway was suspended for a violation of NCAA rules. Ellis didn’t wallow in pity, he just got his team prepared to go out and beat North Carolina Central by 35 points. He continues to do a hell of a job with that program.

Stock Down: Minnesota. Gopher fans are seeing why Wildcat fans ran Tubby Smith out of Kentucky. A promising season is now on the verge of disaster as the Gophers have lost five of their last six. The Gophers face the real possibility of missing the dance altogether – possibly putting Smith on the hot seat. That’s something no one saw coming.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Memphis, Virginia Commonwealth, Boston College, Alabama
Last Four Out: Richmond, Butler, Colorado St, Virginia Tech

Good for Games through 2/20

SOUTHWEST
1.Kansas16.McNeese St/Morgan St Tulsa
8.Utah St9.Old Dominion
5.Arizona12.Alabama/Memphis Tampa
4.Connecticut13.Princeton
6.Syracuse11.Nebraska Tampa
3.Florida14.Bucknell
7.Florida St10.St. Mary’s Chicago
2.Purdue15.Miami(Oh)
WEST
1.Pittsburgh16.Montana Cleveland
8.UNLV9.Washington
5.Missouri12.Boston College/VCU Denver
4.Wisconsin13.Missouri St
6.Xavier11.Minnesota Washington, D.C.
3.Villanova14.Belmont
7.St. John’s10.Tennessee Tulsa
2.Texas15.Long Beach St
SOUTHEAST
1.Ohio St16.Vermont Cleveland
8.Kansas St9.Georgia
5.North Carolina12.Cleveland St Washington, D.C.
4.Louisville13.Oakland
6.Kentucky11.Illinois Charlotte
3.Georgetown14.Morehead St
7.George Mason10.Marquette Denver
2.BYU15.Florida Atlantic
EAST
1.Duke16.Long Island/Texas Southern Charlotte
8.UCLA9.Cincinnati
5.Texas A&M12.UTEP Tucson
4.Vanderbilt13.Charleston
6.Temple11.Gonzaga Chicago
3.Notre Dame14.Fairfield
7.West Virginia10.Michigan St Tucson
2.San Diego st15.Coastal Carolina

In Graphical Form

Argument Against Expansion (Welcome Northern Iowa)

Underachieving Ed Davis and North Carolina would be an at-large candidate in a 96-team tournament

If there was ever a year where the talk of expansion was horrible, it would be this year. This is the weakest bubble I’ve ever seen and there’s talk about expanding to 96 teams.

The NCAA needs to take a step back and look at its priorities. You can’t get an eight-team playoff for football, but you can find a way to have a 96-team basketball tournament. That’s way too many. It devalues a regular season which many people already believe pales in comparison to its postseason.

Let’s be serious, in a 96-team tournament, we’re giving out at-large bids to Illinois St, St. John’s and possibly North Carolina. This is a tournament that’s supposed to crown a national champion. What business does any of those teams have playing in the tournament. Playing in the NCAA tournament is an earned privilege. North Carolina barely deserves to play in the NIT.

Expanding the field to 96 teams is a completely asinine idea and borderline irresponsible.

MID-AMERICAN: This is a conference that used to routinely get multiple bids, but that hasn’t happened in years. This season, there’s a small chance that could happen again. Kent St has six top-100 wins and really had its way with a solid mid-major conference this season. There is no reason to believe that any team will be to challenge the Golden Flashes this week in Cleveland. They’ve been impressive all season and look poised to get back to the NCAA tournament.

BIG WEST: UC-Santa Barbara would’ve strolled away with the regular season title, but some missteps on the road forced it into a tie for the league title with Pacific. UCSB swept the Pacific during the regular season including a double-digit win at Pacific early last month. You have to wonder about UCSB’s inconsistent play. This tournament is designed to protect the top two seeds and I think there will be a third meeting between Pacific and UCSB. Pacific coach Bob Thomason has been here before and he knows how to navigate through this tournament. The Pacific Tigers will go dancing.

SOUTHLAND: You may not find a more exciting team to watch than Sam Houston St, the Southland’s regular season champion. The Bearkats routinely score in the 90’s and have broken the 100-point mark twice this season already. They were tough for conference opponents to contend with as they only have two league-losses on their resume. It will not be easy as there are some experienced teams in the Southland like Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UT-Arlington. However, having to go up-and-down with the Bearkats in a tournament setting will be a challenge this week and that’s why they’ll be going dancing.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Jackson St rolled through conference play at 17-1 and is the heavy favorite this week in the SWAC tournament. The Tigers played a tough non-conference schedule with nine of their first 11 games away from home. That schedule clearly prepared them for league play as no one was able to provide much resistance. For fans of the conference, you have to hope that the Tigers are able to cut the nets down and get some upsets in other conference tournaments because if not, they’ll be relegated to the play-in game.

Today’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: South Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Georgia Tech
Last Four Out: Washington, Seton Hall, Memphis, Arizona St

Click the link below
NCAA Projected Bracket