If you turned up here at Anonymous Eagle looking for a new Marquette men’s basketball player preview, I have to disappoint you for today. With Big East Media Day coming up on Tuesday, we need to make some preseason picks for men’s basketball. Our picks for women’s basketball are already up on the site, so go check those out to make sure you’re up to speed on what’s going on in the league.
Instead of just making some picks and being done with it, I reached out to my Marquette Discord group and asked who wanted to participate in a little bit of preseason polling. Thus, you’re getting the compilation of 10 opinions on the men’s basketball league instead of just my goofball opinions that you’ve come to know and love.
We’ve got poll results for everything you’re going to see on Media Day: Predicted order of finish for all 11 teams in the Big East, Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and a preseason all-Big East team. Just to add some spice to life, I also asked the group two questions about the 2023-24 season in the conference that I think helps shed some light on the most interesting storylines that we’ll see play out this winter.
If you’re a big nerd who wants to comb through the data, feel free to check out the Google Sheet.
Here we go!
Predicted Order Of Finish
This was done assigning points by way of predicted spot. Picked to win? 11 points. Picked to finish last? 1 points. Big number good, small number bad.
1 — Marquette, 109 points, 9 first place votes
2 — Connecticut, 95 points, 1 first place vote
3 — Creighton, 94
4 — Villanova, 74
5 — St. John’s, 66
6 — Providence, 64
7 — Xavier, 53
T8 — Georgetown, 37
T8 — Seton Hall, 37
10 — DePaul, 18
11 — Butler, 13
You can see tiers in the league pretty easily here. Marquette, Creighton, and Connecticut got all but two top three votes across 10 ballots. Then Villanova, St. John’s, and Providence, all in a group. Xavier is hovering there in the middle between Tier 2 and Tier 4, which is the tie between Georgetown and Seton Hall. DePaul and Butler are down at the bottom, splitting all but one of the 10th and 11th place votes between them.
Ben Snider, noted raconteur: Ed Cooley and Rick Pitino basically had the same offseason where they arrive at their natural fit with a lot of discourse and a lot of promises, followed by some splash interest from transfers that ultimately disappoint resulting in rosters that don’t look fantastic on paper. Middle tier of the conference feels like the natural result.
Joe McCann, Cracked Sidewalks: With Georgetown maybe moving up a tiny bit, we get to return to the old tradition of picking DePaul to finish last.
Alan Bykowski, Cracked Sidewalks: Creighton is the proverbial 1A behind Marquette. This team looks like Greg McDermott’s old offenses, but better. They have shooting everywhere and the most efficient interior presence in the league. Further, the defense has improved every season since two-time DPOY Kalkbrenner arrived on campus. Like the Golden Eagles, they are a legitimate Final Four and NCAA title contender.
I know people think UConn is a title contender again, but Hawkins, Jackson, and Sanogo are massive losses. Donovan Clingan should be good, but he is a foul-prone player that probably needs to double his minutes, while not having a comparable running mate to himself like Sanogo had. I definitely see a step back for the Huskies, and picking them 4th might even be too high.
Patrick Leary, retired podcast host: Xavier has disaster potential but Sean Miller is so much better at this than 2023 Thad Matta or any time ever Tony Stubblefield.
Big East Player of the Year: Tyler Kolek, Marquette
It was not a unanimous choice. Creighton managed to turn it into a 8-2 situation, but it was really a 8-1-1 situation. Ryan Kalkbrenner got one vote, as did Trey Alexander. With that said, Joe McCann nailed how the vote was going to go in his commentary:
You’re asking a Marquette fan to pick the preseason player of the year, and the last year’s POY is returning and he’s Marquette’s point guard? Yep, pretty easy call on this one.
The flipside of the coin goes to Patrick Leary:
It rarely works as well the second time around. I’ll trust Marquette pound-for-pound to win the conference, but I don’t know if Kolek can parlay being the guy who stirs the drink but doesn’t have flashy stats into another POY. Trey Alexander is exceptional and might have a better volume case.
I want to offer my insight on this. I voted the way I think the coaches will vote, which means I gave my vote to Kolek because he’s the reigning POY from last year and he’s back this season. I also don’t think he’ll win the trophy in March. Not because he won’t deserve it, but because it’s hard to win a second Big East Player of the Year trophy. We’ll talk about this more in his Player Preview, but he’s got a long road, historically speaking, ahead of him.
Big East Freshman Of The Year: Stephon Castle, Connecticut
This was also not a unanimous vote, as one was cast for Simeon Wilcher from St. John’s. Picking a guy who’s in the top 40 of the 247 Sports Composite is definitely not the wrong choice. It’s just that Castle is #10 and joins a team that has need of guys who can make an impact right away.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Tyler Kolek, Marquette
Bryce Hopkins, Providence
Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton
Justin Moore, Villanova
Donovan Clingan, Connecticut
Also Receiving Votes: Oso Ighodaro (4 votes), Trey Alexander (3), Kam Jones (2), Joel Soriano (2), Posh Alexander (1), Devin Carter (1), Eric Dixon (1), Tristen Newton (1), Baylor Scheierman (1)
The way we did the voting on this was “Your Player of the Year vote and also four more men.” Yes, I know the Big East is going to announce a Preseason POY and then a five-man all-Big East team. No, it does not make sense, so no, we are not going to care about that silliness.
The list you see there is by point total, although Hopkins and Kalkbrenner tied with seven points, so they’re in alphabetical order. In case you were wondering: No, Tyler Kolek is not a unanimous choice.
Ben Snider, noted raconteur: I don’t think Donovan Clingan will be Zach Edey Part II like many previews make him out to be destined for, but he’s still a brontosaurus that plays basketball. Even if he plays 50% of the minutes, the efficiency is there to make UConn a contender.
Without a “true” point guard on this Villanova team, Kyle Neptune will be relying heavily on Justin Moore to create opportunities for himself as well as his teammates. His skills pre-injury made him a surefire lottery pick and he showed in March 2022 that he can still carry a team.
Alan Bykowski, Cracked Sidewalks, who nailed why the top three are the top three: Kolek, Hopkins, and Kalkbrenner all earned first team honors a year ago, so those are no real surprise.
Let’s veer away from the standard preseason poll stuff for a couple of roundtable questions, shall we?
Which team with a first year head coach will feel best about their long term trajectory at the end of the season?
Georgetown: 5 votes
St. John’s: 3 votes
Providence: 2 votes
Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: Georgetown. It’s been so long since they saw competency on the sidelines, they will have forgotten what it does to the psyche.
Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks: Pitino is a HOF coach and while the team won’t win the Big East the program will have legit juice in NYC for the first time in decades. Pitino’s media whoredom, style of play, and playing a stronger MSG schedule will create an insufferable buzz that’ll send their fanbase flying.
Alan Bykowski, Cracked Sidewalks: I think St. John’s fans are already excited, so the answer is Providence. They will be convinced they didn’t lose a beat with English and when they finish ahead of Cooley in the standings they are better off. They will see nothing but a positive future.
Ryan Jackson, Paint Touches: I think St. John’s and Providence will end up on the bubble with one barely making it and the other on the outside looking in. Relative to their expectations, I think that will leave both fanbases feeling unaccomplished. Georgetown on the other hand is expected to be in the basement and I actually think they will end up finishing in the NIT range, not too far behind PC (much to their fans’ chagrin). Combine that with a pair of top 50ish recruits in the 2024 class, I think Hoya fans will be really pumped about the near future.
None of the coaches in the league enters 2023-24 on a hot seat by way of length of tenure and/or level of success. Which program is going to push their coach closest to a hot seat this season?
Butler: 4 votes
DePaul: 4 votes
Seton Hall: 2 votes
Phil Bush, Cracked Sidewalks: Seton Hall, fo sho. Shaheen Holloway has a terrible habit of A) being disrespectful to his players in public and B) coaching an ugly form of basketball. Seton Hall fans are going to be questioning where the hell they go from here after this season.
Ben Snider, noted raconteur: Thad Matta’s roster construction is awful and he had no idea what to do with his best player, Jayden Taylor, last year. I’m not sure what his plan for Posh Alexander at Butler is other than “I remember playing against that guy last year” and there’s a decent chance he gets fired midseason.
Patrick Leary, retired podcast host: DePaul just dumped money into a new facility, but Tony Stubblefield isn’t the guy for that job. He’s the worst coach in the league at the worst job in the league, and he’s out of chances as DePaul gets more aggressive about improving.
Joe McCann, Cracked Sidewalks: If Butler finishes in the bottom three in the league (and I have them 10th), the fanbase might gulp and start to wonder if Thad Matta may have lost a little something when he stepped away from the game. I certainly don’t think Butler fans would be calling for a change in April, but they just might start to wonder what the future looks like if Thad stays for another three years.