Hey, look, kids! Not even 8 AM Central, and the 2018-19 Big East Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll is already out!
As you can see from the headline at the top of the page, Marquette Golden Eagles is picked to finish second in the Big East this season. In addition to the (somewhat expected) good news for the entire squad, Markus Howard and Sam Hauser were honored as preseason all-conference players. Howard was a unanimous choice for the First Team, while Hauser ended up on the second team.
Howard had the fourth best scoring average in the conference last year, tallying 20.4 points per game. He also racked up 3.2 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists. Howard was one of the most prolific shooters in the country, firing off more than eight threes per game last season and connecting on 40.4% of them. Hauser was a ridiculously efficient player in 2017-18, averaging 14.1 points, a team high 5.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He compiled a shooting slashline of 49.9%/48.7%/83.6% and finished with the 11th best Offensive Rating in the country according to KenPom.com.
Let’s dive into the poll, shall we? Here’s the official predicted order of finish, including the point totals and the first place votes in parenthesis.
There’s a lot of really interesting things going on here. First of all, Villanova is not the unanimous pick to win. Coaches can’t vote for their own teams, so unanimous means nine votes here. Someone out there not named Jay Wright picked either Marquette or Butler, as one of those two has to be Wright’s ballot.
In addition to that, you get nine points for a first place vote. Villanova finished with 79 points on nine ballots. 72 of those are from the 1st place votes. That leaves seven points unaccounted for, and they all come from one ballot. 7 points on one ballot means someone — it has to be the coach that voted for either Marquette or Butler to win the league, by the way — also picked Villanova to finish third. That’s INSANE.
As you can see, there’s an awful lot of tight grouping in the ballot. Nine points between first and second, just one separating third and fourth, four being the difference between fifth and sixth, and back down to just one point dividing eighth and ninth. In other words, there is no real solid consistent idea as to who is going to finish where in the league this season. Even DePaul got multiple “not last” votes, as nine last place ballots would have earned them exactly nine points.
Onwards to the individual awards, then...
2018-19 Big East Preseason Player of the Year: Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
Ponds was the top scorer in the Big East, knocking in 21.6 points per game. He is the only member of the 2017-18 All-Big East First Team that returns for this season, so while you can knock his inefficient shooting last season, you can’t knock 1) the fact that the coaches honored him anyway last season and 2) he’s going to be carrying a heavy load for a Johnnies squad that has big expectations.
2018-19 Big East Preseason Co-Freshmen of the Year: Jahvon Quinerly, Villanova, & David Duke, Providence
I’m kind of shocked by this. Quinerly was the unanimous pick when we passed around ballots in the AE office. He’s the only top 30 prospect joining the Big East this season according to 247 Sports, so he seemed like the obvious pick. Some segment of the nine coaches that aren’t Jay Wright disagreed, and gave their vote to Duke instead. It’s not a bad pick, of course, as Duke is still a top 50 prospect, but given that Quinerly’s expected role on the Wildcats’ roster and the eight coaches tabbing VU as the favorite, it’s surprising to see some of those eight go with Duke instead.
Preseason All-Big East First Team
Kamar Baldwin, Butler
Alpha Diallo, Providence
Jessie Govan, Georgetown
Markus Howard, Marquette
Eric Paschall, Villanova
Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
Preseason All-Big East Second Team
Phil Booth, Villanova
Sam Hauser, Marquette
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Justin Simon, St. John’s
Max Strus, DePaul
Baldwin, Govan, Howard, and Paschall are all unanimous choices for the all-league honors, and had we expanded the AE voting to six players to match the Big East’s First Team, all four of them would have been on our all-league team. As of this writing, the Big East has yet to publish the press release on the league website, so I can’t tell you where Ponds fits into that range in terms of votes. In any case, he’s on the First Team thanks to his POY status.
I’d like to talk to the coach or coaches who voted for Max Strus instead of some combination of Diallo, Booth, Hauser, Powell, and Simon. At least one coach, probably two in order for him to get onto the second team, voted for Strus instead of those guys. This is total insanity.
Marquette opens the 2018-19 season on Tuesday, November 6th, when they welcome UMBC to Fiserv Forum.