Here, we’re going to be talking about the men’s basketball preseason picks ahead of Media Day on Tuesday. What we’ve done here is gotten the #mubbPAC group of Paint Touches, Anonymous Eagle, and Cracked Sidewalks back together to actually vote and have a consensus on who the best players and teams in the Big East are this season. Let’s just get right to it, shall we?
Preseason Player of the Year: Julian Champagnie, St. John’s
All-Big East Team
Also Receiving Votes: Posh Alexander, Myles Cale, Zach Freemantle, Justin Lewis, Aminu Mohammed, Justin Moore, Trey Patterson, Jared Rhoden, Kadary Richmond, Jermaine Samuels, Isaiah Whaley
We did a ranked ballot for the preseason all-conference team with all nine voters ranking five players each. Whoever got the most points would be the Preseason POY and the next four point totals would round out the all-conference team.
Julian Champagnie beat out Collin Gillespie for the POY award here kind of because Champagnie appeared on all nine ballots while Gillespie did not. Paul Scruggs, who came in third, was the only other player to appear on all nine ballots.
Everyone you see in the Also Receiving Votes department there appeared on exactly one ballot. In fact, one of those guys — I’ll let you guess — technically tied RJ Cole for fifth place with five points because they were someone’s top of the chart pick as Preseason POY. However, since they were on one ballot and Cole appeared on three and having a six man team is stupid, the tie was broken by the ballot count.
How about some voting commentary?
Alan Bykowski, Cracked Sidewalks: Scruggs has to be here if Xavier is going to be a tourney team. It sucks for Watson that he plays for this year’s Providence team. They are going nowhere, but he’s a stud.
Ben Snider, Anonymous Eagle: I maintain that Gillespie is wildly overrated and a big part of why Villanova’s defense kinda stinks, but I also think the voters won’t care once they see he’s the point guard/leading scorer/familiar name on a top 15 team. As for Cole, Someone on UConn has to score. I guess?
Joe McCann, Cracked Sidewalks: Champagnie is going to be one of the top scorers in the league, if not THE top scorer. So, he’ll have a great shot at player of the year, but Gillespie has that whole “leader of the (likely) conference champions” thing going for him. If Villanova turns out to be as good as we all think it will be, Gillespie will get a lot of support for POY.
Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks: In his 8th season of eligibility, Gillespie holds off Champagnie for POY as the Wildcats win the league despite ongoing injury concerns on the roster.
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Aminu Mohammed, Georgetown
Also Receiving Votes: Ryan Nembhard, Creighton (two votes), Rati Andronikashvili, Creighton, Rahsool Diggins, Connecticut
I actually thought this was going to be a bit of a runaway vote, but the top ranked prospect coming into the Big East this season only picked up five of the nine available votes. More than enough to win easily as no one else snagged more than two, but still not a dramatic runaway decision for the Georgetown wing.
Joe McCann, Cracked Sidewalks: Not going to overthink this one: [Mohammed]’s the only five-star freshman in the league, and he’s playing on a Georgetown team that will probably get him the ball as much as he wants it. He should put up some big numbers this year, even if they may not lead to a lot of wins for the Hoyas.
Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks: A great player on a bad team earns Ewing a lucrative contract extension (yes!)
Predicted Order Of Finish
1 — Villanova, 99 points
2 — Connecticut, 87 points
3 — Xavier, 77 points
T4 — St. John’s, 69 points
T4 — Seton Hall, 69 points
6 — Butler, 52 points
7 — Providence, 42 points
8 — Marquette, 36 points
9 — Creighton, 32 points
10 — Georgetown, 21 points
11 — DePaul, 10 points
Only one spot on this poll was unanimous, and that’s Villanova at the top. They got all nine first place votes, and rightly so. Everyone else was picked at multiple places between 2 and 11 with only a lone vote for 10th place stopping DePaul from being the unanimous pick as the last place team.
Because I know you’re now desperately curious: Georgetown is the last place team on that ballot.
Let’s see what the voters had to say:
Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks: Plenty of folks will pick MU to be nearer the bottom, but I’m bullish on Shaka Smart quickly establishing a consistent defensive identity with two senior leaders, Darryl Morsell and Kur Kuath. The program should finally begin to return to its historic roots this season, that of a tough-minded, aggressive (violent?!) bunch that plays tenacious defense. While the team will struggle to score consistently, a return to health for Justin Lewis should give MU a near go-to scorer, while Greg Elliott figures to be one of the league’s most efficient deep shooters. Add in a host of (very athletic) unknowns across the board - David Joplin, Stevie Mitchell, and Oso Ighodaro in particular — and Smart will likely rely on a deep, rather unpredictable rotation that’ll be unsettling for fans and opponents alike. Some might call that Havoc 2.0.
Ben Snider, Anonymous Eagle: On Seton Hall at #2 — I still think Bryce Aiken has one more run in him. Sue me.
On Xavier at #5 — This is the Wojo 2019-2020 test for Xavier’s Travis Steele. He needs to do something decent with this roster to keep his job, but I don’t think he will
On DePaul at #11 — I’m officially predicting that the next 2 years will be the worst in DePaul’s history. I think Stubblefield is a horrendous hire, especially for DePaul’s current situation. If you’re going to hire a guy with decent recruiting chops but associates himself too much with guys that have pretty shady pasts, there at least needs to be an existing culture of success and good characters to hope that gets smothered out. This is the first hire for a brand new AD trying to hold the pieces together. It might get ugly.
Phil Bush, Cracked Sidewalks: I think the top two (18-2, 17-3 type records) will not be anywhere close to the pack and the pack (3-9 in the standings) will all be within a game or two of each other.
Joe McCann, Cracked Sidewalks: Experience can be a big deal in college hoops. The amount of returning minutes for Xavier and Butler are noteworthy, so that’s why I’m high on those two teams. But Villanova still returns plenty, and Jay Wright is still there last I checked. So, they’re an easy choice to win the league.
Alan Bykowski, Cracked Sidewalks: On UConn at #2 — Stout D, but who will bail them out when they need a bucket? Tourney team, but probably in the 6-8 range.
On Seton Hall at #3 — This is the last team I feel confident will make the NCAAs. I think the league gets five bids, but after this, it’s a blender. Grudgingly giving Willard the credit that he usually finds a way.
On St. John’s at #4 — On paper a tourney team, but so many new pieces and not sure if they’ll fit. We’ve seen talented Johnnies teams disappoint before.
On Creighton at #10 — They return no one and McDermott isn’t a guy who typically wins with freshmen. In a couple years they should be really good, but not now.
And that’s our poll results and commentary! Got questions? Got complaints? Got unsettled grudges? That’s what the comments section is for! Drop ‘em in there if you got ‘em.