The 2019-20 Big East men’s basketball season continues to inch closer and closer. Yet another guidepost along the way comes to us on Thursday in the form of Media Day at Madison Square Garden. Not only is that when all the coaches gather together with select players to meet and chat with the gathered press, but it’s also when the league office will release the results of the preseason polling of the coaches.
With that in mind, we here at Anonymous Eagle did our own voting for the various preseason awards in the league this season. There are eight of us that contribute to the site, so there are eight ballots for Preseason Player of the Year, Preseason Freshman of the Year, and Preseason All-Big East team. For the purposes of making things simple in the voting process, every person voted for six members on the all-league team, with their preseason Player of the Year occupying one of the six spots.
Let’s get on the with the results, shall we?
Preseason Player of the Year: Markus Howard, Marquette (7 votes)
Also Receiving Votes: Myles Powell, Seton Hall (1 vote)
Let’s turn it over to the guys for comments here, as I don’t think I have to put a lot of discussion into the idea of the 2018-19 Player of the Year earning the preseason version of that award the following season.
Connor Lagore: It’s Markus Howard. Chill out, stat guys, we don’t need that argument here. Howard is just too cool not to win. Myles Powell can go take a long walk off a short New Jersey pier.
Ben Snider: As much as I want Myles Powell to feel a pebble in his sock for the rest of his life, the race will probably be closer than want/will likely come down to their final showdown on Senior Day.
Besay: If you can find evidence for someone that’s not Markus Howard, please provide said evidence in the comments below.
Patrick Leary: [unavailable for comment after being remanded into federal protective custody for voting for Myles Powell]
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, (5 votes)
Also Receiving Votes: Bryan Antoine, Villanova (2 votes), Romeo Weems, DePaul (1 vote)
The Big East has three freshmen in the 247 Sports top 60 for 2019. Villanova has all three, with JRE and Antoine in the top 20. The primary argument for picking a non-Wildcat is that none of them will do enough to distinguish themselves as the best freshman night in and night out on their own team.
Pistol Brad: This is not an easy year to pick out a single Big East freshman who will shine above the rest. Most teams are bringing back significant contributors at major positions and those that are not have not brought in any stud freshmen. I don’t expect Bryan Antoine to light up the box score from day one but if he is a significant contributor on what is presumed to be the best team in the BIG EAST, he will have a good shot at the award.
Ben Snider: This race is going to suuuuuuck this year. Every team is being carried on the backs of upperclassmen, so there won’t be much room for most newbies to make an impact. The only big name expected to start is Kansas City’s own Jeremiah Robinson-Earl from Villanova. Just imagine every forward that’s come through Jay Wright’s system and slap a top 20 class ranking on him. He’s going to be annoying. Shoutout to KyKy Tandy at Xavier, though. Best name in the Big East.
Connor Lagore: Bryan Antoine is good, and I’m pretty sure I could be a Villanova guard right now, so yeah, they’re gonna need him more than they need Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who will also be good.
Besay: I picked JRE because he’s going to get a head start on Antoine who’ll be recovering from shoulder surgery back in May.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Markus Howard, Marquette (unanimous)
Myles Powell, Seton Hall (unanimous)
Alpha Diallo, Providence (6 votes)
Kamar Baldwin, Butler (5 votes)
Naji Marshall, Xavier (5 votes)
Ty-Shon Alexander, Creighton (3 votes)
Also Receiving Votes: Saddiq Bey, Villanova (2 votes), Jermaine Samuels, Villanova (2 votes), James Akinjo, Georgetown (2 votes), Collin Gillespie, Villanova (2 votes), Brendan Bailey, Marquette (1 vote), Paul Scruggs, Xavier (1 vote), Paul Reed, DePaul (1 vote), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova (1 vote)
If you’re like me and Cracked Sidewalks’ Alan Bykowski, then you’re of the opinion that the Big East is, to a certain extent, a total crapshoot as to what to expect this year. At the very least, we’re talking about a league with question marks hanging over every single team. As such, nailing down a consensus on the top six players in the league after Howard and Powell, the only two men to garner POY votes, was essentially impossible. Two people — one-quarter of the voting populace — did not vote for the guy we’re recognizing as the third best player in the league, and it only gets more discordant from there. In fact, my own personal methodology for voting for this is what ended up being the separation between Ty-Shon Alexander on the list instead of a five-way tie for the sixth spot.
You can make an argument that this is actually a very good thing for the Big East in terms of competitiveness. I don’t know if that will hold up as league play gets going in January, but we’ll see what happens.
Ben Snider: I’m stupid high on Saddiq Bey. He is in a prime spot to take over the offense and I think he steps up. Plus it’s almost a bylaw that someone from Villanova has to be on the All-Big East team every year.
Mitch Ballock might end up being Creighton’s best offensive player, but Alexander is by far their most important player. Plus he can actually play a little bit of defense.
This is a PIPING hot take that I legitimately believe, but Brendan Bailey is on a path to stardom and it starts this year. His defense is elite and all he needs is a normal freshman-to-sophomore jump in offensive skill to become a top tier player. This also requires Wojo to give him the lion’s share of minutes at the 4, which doesn’t appear to be a guarantee. Just know that if this take doesn’t come into fruition, it’s everyone’s fault except for mine.
I did not forget Kamar Baldwin; I just don’t think he’s that good. The rest of that lineup is very meh and he needs a legitimate 1B option to reach his full potential.
Tyrique Jones and Naji Marshall are both great as well, but they’re cursed by being in similar positions as the other on the same team. I just don’t think one of them separates themselves as All Big East caliber.
Broadway Brown: How the hell is Kamar Baldwin still at Butler? I swear to God he played with Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward.
Pistol Brad: Howard and Powell are shoo-ins, barring injury, given their roles on their respective teams.
Alpha Diallo led Providence in scoring last year as well as being an elite defender. If the Friars bounce back after missing the tournament, he could garner some attention for BE POY.
Naji Marshall came on very strong last season and I have little reason to expect him to falter in the 2019-20 season. Marshall fills up the box score unlike any other player in the league and if he plays consistently, should deserve a first team nod.
Kamar Baldwin is overrated. He is a good defender but takes bad shots and his 102 offensive rating is not comparable to other league stars (See Howard, Markus). However, my list isn’t who I would put on the first team, but who I think will be on first team, so Baldwin gets the nod. He is a tough defender who is the undoubted leader of a Butler team looking to bounce back from a below average season last year. As much as we love advanced stats, these days a lot of the voting is still based on raw numbers and Baldwin has no shortage of those.
For my final spot I chose Collin Gillespie almost as a default. If Villanova is at the top of the league again, one of their players will have to be first team BIG EAST. Gillespie is a solid all-around player who, given more usage, could put up numbers worthy of this list.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The predicted order of finish in the Big East this season. 1 point for a first place vote, 2 points for a second place vote, and so on and so forth. If you want to see each individual ballot, you can find it right here on this Google Sheet.
1 - Villanova, 10 points
2 - Seton Hall, 17 points
3 - Xavier, 25 points
4 - Marquette, 30 points
5 - Creighton, 40 points
T6 - Georgetown, 51 points
T6 - Providence, 51 points
8 - Butler, 66 points
9 - St. John’s, 74 points
10 - DePaul, 76 points
It’s probably telling that St. John’s is the only team that didn’t get mentioned until right there, and they still finished ahead of DePaul, even if it was by just two points.
Remember a moment ago when I said that I thought that the league was a lot of a tossup this season? I don’t know if that held up so much when all eight of us threw a list out there and the votes merged together. Then again, the only team with anything approaching a consensus view is Villanova, with six first place votes and two second place votes. Even DePaul’s votes are split between ninth and tenth.
Actually, I take that back. Butler is a near-consensus to be eighth, with seven of the eight votes putting them there and the last one sticking them, appropriately, last.
Besay: Fingers crossed Marquette will finish somewhere in the top 3 but I’m not very optimistic about this year (or any of the last 6 years for that matter). There are too many unknowns to make any serious predictions regarding Big East titles and NCAA tournament runs so on so forth. I’ll just tentatively put them at three and hope that the offseason shenanigans don’t cause a huge regression from last year.
Nova is a lock to win the Big East this year. Can an argument be made otherwise? Sure. Will you convince me? Probably not.
Seton Hall has the appearance of a team that’s due to make a deep run this year. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt at number two but they’ve been rather inconsistent in recent years so who knows if they’ll live up to the hype.
Like last year, the middle of the Big East will be a logjam. 4-7 could go any which way. If you want to rank them alphabetically, go ahead. If you prefer putting each team name in a hat and drawing for those spots, please feel free. How about having a mascot contest…well there are actually clear winners there: Hoyas and Bluejays would win that. But you get the point: time will tell how the middle will shake out.
Ben Snider: I may be overrating the finish Xavier had for last year, but I really like that lineup and Travis Steele impressed me last year.
I think Seton Hall gets third on some dumb tiebreaker, but their top talent is good enough to make noise and there’s still a nonzero chance that Taurean Thompson develops into something.
I’m putting Creighton over Marquette just because of their roster continuity. Jacob Epperson absolutely needs to be healthy for them to be successful, though.
Providence’s forwards are great, and I know we’re in an era of positionless basketball, but teams still need a point guard. Ed Cooley ESPECIALLY needs a point guard. I’m going to hold off on the David Duke hype until I see it.
Got something in your head that disagrees with how our votes turned out? Well, my friend, that’s why Al Gore invented the comments section. Let us know what you’re thinking and we shall have a snappy conversation between equals of knowledge and wit, unless you are a Seton Hall fan, of course.