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Unscientific Predictions: 2023 Big East Men’s Lacrosse Preseason Awards

Those awards from the league office will be here before you know it, so let’s start figuring out what’s what in the conference this season!

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Xavier Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

I know everyone is still settling in to 2023. Hope that’s going well for you so far. Before you know it, it’s going to be time for lacrosse! Last year, we got the Big East preseason awards for men’s lacrosse on January 19th, so we should be well ahead of the curve by publishing these predictions for how the league’s coaches are going to vote today!

We’ll give you an offensive and defensive player of the year, just like the league office well. After that, there’s a 13 man all-Big East team heading into the year. Finally, we’ll take a swing at predicting what the conference standings will look like by the time we get to the Big East tournament in May.

Let’s get started!

Offensive Player of the Year: Matt Campbell, Villanova

The biggest lesson of all when it comes to these estimations as to how the Big East coaches are going to vote is a simple one: Don’t overthink it. Campbell led the Big East in points per game last season at 4.43. I’m not sure how he didn’t win the award at the end of last season other than he didn’t lead the league in goals, but Georgetown’s Dylan Watson (3.56 goals/game vs Campbell’s 3.00) isn’t around any more to alter the equation. If you want to have a conversation about other possible candidates, Georgetown’s Graham Bundy is the only returning player to average north of four points a game and Marquette’s Bobby O’Grady averaged the exact same number of goals as Campbell.

Defensive Player of the Year: Will Bowen, Georgetown

Again we take the tactic of not overthinking this, and in this case, there’s even less thinking to do. Bowen got the postseason version of this trophy in 2022 and he returns for 2023. The coaches thought he was the best player in the league on that end of the field last season, and now even fellow Hoya Gibson Smith IV isn’t even around to add questions due to both of them being unanimous choices for the all-Big East First Team, the end, let’s all keep it moving.

All-Big East Team

Ryan Bell, Providence, M
Will Bowen, Georgetown, D
Graham Bundy, Jr., Georgetown, M
Matt Campbell, Villanova, M
Chet Comizio, Villanova, SSDM
Jack DiBenedetto, Denver, D
Matt Grillo, Providence, A
Bobby O’Grady, Marquette, A
James Reilly, Georgetown, FO
JJ Silstrop, Denver, A
Malik Sparrow, Denver, LSM
Jack Thompson, Denver, GK
Mason Woodward, Marquette, D

A lot of this was pretty straight forward. Campbell and Bowen go straight onto the list thanks to their individual awards. Bundy was a unanimous choice for the First Team last season, and he was joined on the First Team by DiBenedetto, O’Grady, Sillstrop, and Reilly. Grillo was the leading point guy amongst the Second Team attackers, so he joins Sillstrop and O’Grady in that trio here. Comizio, Sparrow, and Thompson all get their spots by being Second Team honorees at the end of the 2022 season and having seniors on the First Team end their careers to open up the spots.

That left me with just two judgement calls to make here. I needed a third midfielder to balance things out as Bundy is technically the only midfielder returning from last year’s all-Big East teams. Officially, the Big East honored Campbell as a First Team attacker, but Villanova does list him as a middie, so we make the move to get to two and then add PC’s Ryan Bell. He led the Big East in assists per game last season, and missed out on all-league honors so I’m happy to elevate him here. The other one was in the D-Man group with Denver’s AJ Mercurio and Marquette’s Mason Woodward returning as Second Team honorees last season. The Pioneers already had four players on the all-conference list so just for the sake of keeping it interesting (not to mention hilarious homerism) I went with Woodward.

Predicted Order Of Finish

1 - Denver
2 - Georgetown
3 - Marquette
4 - Villanova
5 - Providence
6 - St. John’s

I’m flipping Denver and Georgetown from last year’s end of season standings just because the Hoyas have lost way too much from that team. They have five First Team guys from last season who are no longer there, and that’s enough for me to tip the tables towards the Pios. GU is also still absurdly talented with Bundy and Bowen leading the way, so it’s not like I’m saying they’re going to be bad.

I also flipped Marquette and Villanova from last year’s standings. That was a two-goal game at Valley Fields last season, and if it goes the other way, the two teams flip their records and their spots in the standings. I choose to believe that a healthier Marquette team — in particular with Mason Woodward in the lineup — is good enough to make the difference there.