We’re trying something new this year with our Big East men’s basketball preseason picks. In the past, it’s just been me, Brewtown Andy, your loyal AE site manager, assembling a wild guess at how the league’s coaches will vote. As you may have noticed, we’ve added some new voices to the site as this school year got started, so that means a slight change in format.
Each of the contributors to the site — the six new peeps and me — voted on each of the categories that the Big East will announce on Media Day: Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, All-Conference Team, and a full 10 team predicted order of finish. I tallied up the votes and what follows is the result. As we go, we’ll turn to a few of the writers to give you their insights on why they voted for that guy or that team.
Here we go.....
Preseason Player of the Year: Trevon Bluiett, Xavier (3 votes)
Thoughts on Player of the Year:
Besay: Trevon Bluiett just edges out Jalen Brunson because of his success in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Bluiett led his team to the Elite Eight last year and played lights out in the four games. He's the best all-around player in the Big East and showed it in last year's tournament.
NHammertime: Trevon Bluiett really put Xavier on his back during their surprising run to the Elite 8 last year. I think this will equate to Bluiett having a great deal of confidence in his ability to take over a game. Adding confidence to his already versatile skill set is a combination that will have Trevon Bluiett leading a Xavier team to Big East title contention.
Ben Snider: Angel Delgado is going to win Player of the Year this season unless he accidentally rips someone in half.
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Omari Spellman, Villanova (6 votes)
Also earning votes: Chris Sodom, Georgetown (1 vote)
Thoughts on Freshman of the Year:
NHammertime: Freshman of the Year usually comes down to playing time. If you are a highly touted prospect, you are going to be given playing time right off the bat. Spellman and Xavier’s Paul Scruggs are tops when it comes to the Big East. I don't think any of Marquette's freshman quartet will have a high enough scoring volume to compete for the award.
Besay: (Editor’s Note: Sorry, man, I have to let you justify the dissenting vote in public.) The Georgetown center stands 7'3" and is the tallest player in the Big East. With that height, I envision Georgetown getting him the ball often on offense to have him post up against smaller defenders. He will be an obvious boost defensively with the ability to tower over players to grab rebounds. He will be a huge asset offensively and defensively to a Hoyas team that finished 9th in the Big East last year losing their last six games.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Jalen Brunson, Villanova*
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier*
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall*
Marcus Foster, Creighton
Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
Also earning votes: Kelan Martin (2 votes), Kamar Baldwin, Khadeen Carrington, Markus Howard, Rodney Bullock, Tre’Darius McCallum (1 vote)
The three guys with the asterisks are unanimous choices with all seven votes. Foster was on four of the ballots, while Ponds turned up three times.
Thoughts on the all-league team:
NHammertime: There are a lot of talented players in the Big East this year. I think Bluiett, Brunson and Delgado are locks barring injury. All of these guys flirted with the NBA Draft and should be in consideration for All American status. Foster and Martin both had good campaigns last year, and if they can repeat that success, I see them making it in as well. In the case of all of these guys, the success of their teams will be on their shoulders. These are all veterans that know how to get it done.
Predicted Order Of Finish
1 - Villanova (68 points, 6 1st place votes)
2 - Xavier (55, 1 1st place vote)
T3 - Providence (52)
T3 - Seton Hall (52)
5 - Marquette (42)
6 - Butler (35)
7 - St. John’s (31)
8 - Creighton (29)
9 - DePaul (13)
10 - Georgetown (8)
We used the same voting format as the league’s coaches will use in the official media day rankings: First place gets 10 points (the official poll is only 9, as the coaches can not vote for their own team), second gets 9 points, third gets 8, and so on.
Thoughts on the league vote:
Ben Snider: Picture yourself at 13. Your brain is finally starting to wrap itself around some of the more abstract concepts that we adults almost take for granted. You're thinking of the idea of space. There is an infinite vastness that cannot be explained or fathomed. It's an indescribable amount of emptiness. Your 13 year old view of this emptiness doesn't even begin to describe the gap between Creighton and the final 2 Big East teams.
Bottom half in the Big East doesn't mean below average team here. I think 3-6 will be separated by maybe two games. I really think St. John’s can do some serious damage in the Big East this year. Xavier will be a tournament team, but size will be an issue, and I think J.P. Macura is a bit overrated. Butler will probably get tournament consideration at the minimum, but there's a lot of transition going on there to consider them in the top half.
NHammertime: Count me as the guy that isn't going to automatically shoehorn Villanova in as #1. They will be in the hunt for the conference title, but I think the quality of returning players that Xavier and Seton Hall have will give Nova all they can handle. I think 4-6 could go either way, but I think by Big East play, you will see a Marquette squad on the rise. Howard and Hauser take the next step as sophomores, the freshman become accustomed to D-1 ball, and the presence of Harry Froling has me quite excited. I probably have Butler lower than most, but how many seamless coaching transitions can one team make? I think they are due for a hiccup with the new coaching regime, despite the quality roster that they have. St. Johns, DePaul, Georgetown....meh.
Broadway Brown: 5 through 8 is a mashup and can go literally any way. Too many questions on defense for Marquette, lack of big men for St. John's, can Creighton ride Marcus Foster all year long, is Butler gonna produce points from people not named Kelan Martin?