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Marquette Men’s Basketball Picked To Finish 4th-ish In The Big East

I say “-ish” because of a tie in the voting.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Hartford Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Media Day!

The Big East kicked off its yearly Media Day for basketball at Madison Square Garden bright and early on Thursday morning by announcing the results for the various preseason awards and rankings. Because this is a Marquette Golden Eagles blog site, we’re primarily focused on the results for the Golden Eagles. Here’s your big items to know:

  1. Marquette finished in a tie for fourth in the team poll, earning 50 points and tying with Providence. Both squads finished two points behind third place Xavier Musketeers, one point ahead of sixth place Georgetown, and five points ahead of seventh place Creighton.
  2. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell, not MU’s Markus Howard, was named Preseason Player of the Year.

Let’s address the second part first, as Howard was tabbed as the best player in the Big East at the end of the 2018-19 season by way of the voting of the coaches in the league. Let’s go through the league office’s press writeup on Powell, shall we?

Powell, a 6-2 senior from Trenton, N.J., ranked second in the BIG EAST in scoring last season with a 23.1 average that was also 13th nationally.

Behind Markus Howard, who averaged 25.0 points overall and 24.9 in Big East play.

He made a school record 107 3-pointers and his season point total of 784 was the most by a Pirate in the school’s BIG EAST era.

Markus Howard had 120 made three-pointers last season, which missed the Marquette record by five. Markus Howard shattered the Marquette single season scoring record with 851 points, eclipsing the record set one year earlier by Andrew Rowsey by 135 points.

Powell’s 2.0 steal average ranked second in the league.

I got nothing for you here, as Howard averaged “only” 1.1 steals per game.

He was a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team selection

Markus Howard was Player of the Year.

and made the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team after leading all players in scoring with a 26.0 average.

Markus Howard averaged 25.5 points in the tournament and was also named to the All-Tournament Team.

Powell also participated in the Pan American Games this summer, helping the USA team of BIG EAST players capture a bronze medal with a 14.6 scoring mark. He is the first player from Seton Hall to earn Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year honors since Terry Dehere in 1992-93.

blah blah blah

Here’s the league’s writeup on Howard being named to the First Team:

Howard, a 5-11 senior guard from Chandler, Ariz., is the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year. He earned the honor last season after averaging 25.0 points, which ranked fifth nationally. A Consensus All-America Second Team pick, Howard shot 40.3 percent from 3-point range and connected on a school record 120 3-point baskets. In BIG EAST play, he won the scoring title with a 24.9 average and, with 1,070 BIG EAST career points, is on pace to become the league’s all-time scorer. Last season, he broke his own BIG EAST single-game scoring record with 53 points in a win at Creighton.

But no, seriously, Myles Powell is better than that.

Here’s a weird one for you: Is this award purely because Seton Hall is the preseason pick to win the Big East, edging out Villanova by one vote? If the Hausers hadn’t departed, would Marquette be the obvious pick to win the league, and then Howard, with more backup firepower behind them, would then still be the best player in the league in the eyes of the coaches?

That’s insane, right?

Anyway, back to the team poll.

It would appear that in the eyes of the coaches, there’s three distinct divisions in the league:

  • Seton Hall and Villanova
  • Xavier, Marquette, Providence, Georgetown, and Creighton
  • Butler, St. John’s, and DePaul

I don’t think there’s as much separation as the point totals indicate. I think Seton Hall and Villanova both have big enough question marks surrounding them this season — Seton Hall barely made the NCAA tournament last year with essentially this exact same roster and Villanova will rely heavily on highly regarded freshmen — to nudge them back towards the rest of the pack. Don’t get me wrong: There’s questions all over the place with the teams in that second tier as well. I just don’t think the difference between first place and third place is going to be as distinct in March as this preseason poll indicates.

Here’s the rundown on the remaining individual player honors, including Freshman of the Year. The asterisks on First Team mark the unanimous choices, while the carrot on the Second Team notes that there was a tie in the voting somewhere.

BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova F, Fr., 6-9, 232, Overland Park, Kan.

BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team

Kamar Baldwin, Butler, G, Sr., 6-1, 190, Winder, Ga.
Ty-Shon Alexander, Creighton, G, Jr., 6-4, 195, Charlotte, N.C.
Markus Howard, Marquette, G, Sr., 5-11, 175, Chandler, Ariz.*
Alpha Diallo, Providence, G, Sr., 6-7, 210, New York, N.Y.*
Naji Marshall, Xavier, F, Jr., 6-7, 220, Atlantic City, N.J.*

BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team^

Paul Reed, DePaul, F, Jr., 6-9, 215, Orlando, Fla.
James Akinjo, Georgetown, G, So., 6-0, 180, Oakland, Cal.
L.J. Figueroa, St. John’s, G-F, Jr., 6-6, 195, Lawrence, Mass.
Mustapha Heron, St. John’s, G, Sr., 6-5, 210, Waterbury, Conn.
Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-3, 191, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
Jermaine Samuels, Villanova, F, Jr., 6-7, 222, Franklin, Mass.

Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention

Omer Yurtseven, Georgetown, C, Jr., 7-0, 275, Istanbul, Turkey
Paul Scruggs, Xavier, G, Jr., 6-4, 196, Indianapolis, Ind.

Hey, look, the First Team is the five guys not named Powell that were on the all-league team that the AE staff voted on earlier in the week. We are very smart people.

Three of the guys earning all-league honors — Figueroa, Heron, and Yurtseven — did not earn a vote from the AE staff at all. I don’t disagree with the coaches that voted for the Red Storm guys, nor do I disagree with the AE staff not voting for them. St. John’s might be god-awful this year, or Mike Anderson might be an amazing improvement over Chris Mullin. Who knows!

I think Yurtseven is getting overlooked in terms of all-Big East honors. If the transfer from NC State essentially drops right into Jessie Govan’s spot in the Hoya rotation, he’s going to put up some serious numbers. Govan was an all-league caliber player without even a hint of a doubt, so the opportunity is there for Yurtseven.

As for Freshman of the Year, you can’t really argue with JRE as the pick. He’s the most highly regarded recruit coming into the league this season. That’s the easy way to pick this award at this point of the year. The March version is a different story, as he’s going to have to produce for Jay Wright to get there.