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2023-24 Big East Women’s Basketball: Where Are We Now?

With league play beginning in earnest this weekend, let’s whip around the league and see what everyone’s been up to so far this year.

Houston v Xavier Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

On Sunday, Marquette women’s basketball officially moves the calendar over to Big East play. It’s nothing but league games the rest of the way down for the Golden Eagles, and so, it’s a good time to take a swing around the league and see what everyone’s been doing so far this season.

Since the NET debuted back on December 4th, that’s a fantastic sorting tool for us. We’ll go through the 11 teams in the Big East in the order that they appear in the NET the last time it updated, which was December 23rd. There hasn’t been any women’s college basketball anywhere in the country since then, hence, no updates.

We’ll also give you a quick capsule on each team, noting their win/loss record at the moment and updating you on who’s leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists. We’ll also touch on each team’s best win and worst loss in terms of the NET rankings as of the moment. Shouts to the NCAA’s team sheets for making it so easy and simple to quickly figure out which games are which.

Alright, we’ve got 11 teams to get to, let’s get started!

Connecticut Huskies: #12

Record: 9-3, 1-0 Big East
Scoring Leader: Paige Bueckers, 19.5 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Aaliyah Edwards, 8.0 rpg
Assists Leader: Nika Muhl, 4.6 apg
Best Win: vs #16 Louisville, 86-62
Worst Loss: at #9 NC State, 92-81

After last year’s injury plagued season resulted in the earliest elimination from the NCAA tournament since 2005, the going thought was that 2023-24 would be a Return To Glory season for the Huskies. That has not happened, but that’s partially because last year’s injury problems have continued on into this season. Azzi Fudd only played in two games and is done for the year after an ACL tear. Caroline Ducharme has appeared in just four games this season and hasn’t played since the November 19th game at Minnesota due to neck spasms. Sophomore Ayanna Patterson, who averaged 10 minutes a game last season, hasn’t played at all this year and might not at all due to knee injury issues. Redshirt freshman Jana El Alfy ruptured her Achilles and is done for the year.

It’s a lot to deal with, and so UConn isn’t quite the rampaging Huskies team that was expected from most corners. What that means is that they’re merely the heavy favorite to win the Big East and a notable presence on the national stage instead of a national championship contender. All three of UConn’s losses by double digit margins, but all three are to top 10 NET teams. Two of them — Texas and NC State — were on the road while the third — UCLA — was in the Cayman Islands. They’re top 15 in the NET because they’re undefeated everywhere else on the schedule, including 5-0 against teams ranked #26 through #50, and they’ve played just one game against a sub-150 team. Heck, the only reason they’re not a top 10 NET team themselves is because other things moved around them on December 22nd.

“Great, but not as great as we thought they would be” is probably the most dangerous type of UConn team.

Creighton Bluejays: #19

Record: 9-2, 0-1 Big East
Scoring Leader: Emma Ronsiek, 19.6 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Morgan Maly, 6.3 rpg
Assists Leader: Molly Mogensen 3.8 apg
Best Win: vs #16 Michigan State on a neutral floor, 83-69
Worst Loss: vs #36 Green Bay, 65-53

The clear choice as second best team in the Big East has done nothing to dissuade you from that idea this season. Both of their NET top 25 wins are away from home, and they haven’t taken a loss outside the top 40. Heck, they haven’t even played a game outside the NET top 200, although we’ll have to wait and see what happens to #194 Northern Iowa as the season goes along. Even starting out 0-1 in Big East play isn’t really a problem because that loss is 1) on the road, 2) in a close game, 3) to the team that was picked to finish third in the league.

Yes, they have the home loss to Green Bay, yes, it’s by 12 points, no, that’s not fun. I don’t care who you are, you’re going to have a hard time beating anyone in the country when you shoot 35% from the field and 23% from long range. I don’t want to go so far as to say that it’s an aberrational performance from the Bluejays, because they’ve shot under 30% from long range more than they’ve shot better than that this season. But they are 2-2 when they shoot under 40% from the field overall, which just tells us that the Jays are prone to power outages this season more than anything else. If they can keep defending — and Her Hoop Stats says they’re a top 30 defense right now — they can overcome shooting problems on most nights.

Marquette Golden Eagles: #32

Record: 12-0, 1-0 Big East
Scoring Leader: Liza Karlen, 17.2 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Frannie Hottinger, 9.2 rpg
Assists Leader: Rose Nkumu, 5.0 apg
Best Win: vs #19 Creighton, 76-70

The good news is that Marquette is still undefeated on the year, and their 12-0 start is the best start in program history. The bad news is that head coach Megan Duffy scheduled like she had only five returning players with notable experience to go with four transfers, and two freshmen. Seven of MU’s opponents are currently sub-140 in the NET and two of them are sub-320. That’s why Marquette isn’t a top 30 NET team even after debuting in the NET at #22 and moving to #21 after beating Creighton to open up Big East play.

It also doesn’t help that Illinois’ NET has collapsed from #26 in the first iteration to #62 at the moment. Beating a ranked Illini squad at the McGuire Center earned Marquette their first bunch of national attention this season, but now that win doesn’t mean as much as it did at the time. Arkansas losing at home to Pine Bluff isn’t helping, either.

What all of this means that MU is on a trajectory for the NCAA tournament, but they’re also a little bit on the shaky side. That’s in terms of both a non-conference profile as well as how they actually performed in a couple of those games. Marquette escaped on the road against Illinois State and was able to outgun App State. There’s a version of this season where MU doesn’t have their A game against a league opponent and they take a loss that they really shouldn’t.

Seton Hall Pirates: #34

Record: 9-3, 1-0 Big East
Scoring Leader: Azana Baines, 15.5 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Azana Baines, 6.5 rpg
Assists Leader: Amari Wright, 6.3 apg
Best Win: vs #25 UNLV, 84-54
Worst Loss: at #71 Columbia, 72-61

The difference between 9-3 and 8-4 for Seton Hall is a gigantic one. Outside of their game against UNLV, the Pirates have played just one NET top 50 opponent so far this season and took two losses — one of the coinflip variety in double OT — to top 100 Ivy League teams. Before they stomped out UNLV at home by 30 points, there was nothing about Seton Hall’s season that was particularly interesting, nothing that made you say “ah, I think the Pirates have something to say in the Big East this year.”

But they did beat the Rebels, and did it while turning the ball over quite a lot, and now they have that thing that makes you say that. Now, do you want to be worried about the fact that they followed up that win by falling behind 14-0 against Georgetown and trailing 21-2 after 10 minutes? Yes, probably! Is the fact that they won that game 57-49 — aka “56-28 in the next 30 minutes” — making you feel better about that 10 minute stretch? Only a little bit!

Villanova Wildcats: #56

Record: 7-5, 0-1 Big East
Scoring Leader: Lucy Olsen, 23.4 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Christina Dalce, 11.2 rpg
Assists Leader: Bella Runyan, 4.0 apg
Best Win: vs #52 Richmond, 67-57
Worst Loss: at #94 St. John’s, 51-46

Taking your worst loss through 12 games in your Big East opener isn’t the worst thing in the world. The fact that beating you is what moved that opponent into the top 100 in the NET isn’t a great thing about that loss, but there are worse ways to go through the season.

My biggest question for the Wildcats so far is “Why is Denise Dillon letting Lucy Olsen play Maddy Siegrist?” I’ll admit that I haven’t done the tape review on Villanova to really dive down into this, but I watched a hell of a lot of Maddy Siegrist over the past few years, and I understood why she was shooting it 20-plus times a game for VU. Now Olsen’s doing that this year, but it’s just not working as well. She’s heavily dominating the offense — no one else shoots more than 10 times a game — but Olsen has a shooting split of 44/33/79. That’s a far cry from Siegrist’s 51/36/86 last season, and that’s the kind of numbers you need to make this kind of usage work. The fact that Villanova is just a touch over .500 on the year while playing just one NET top 50 opponent probably goes a long way towards explaining why this isn’t a great plan for the Wildcats.

If you needed it in heavy relief: Lucy Olsen was 2-for-15 against St. John’s. It’s one thing to depend on a star to make your engine go. It’s another thing to have absolutely nothing to offer the world when that star doesn’t have it.

Georgetown Hoyas: #78

Record: 9-2, 0-1 Big East
Scoring Leader: Kelsey Ransom, 15.6 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Graceann Bennett, 7.4 rpg
Assists Leader: Alex Cowan and Kelsey Ransom, 3.4 apg
Best Win: at #119 Temple, 68-45
Worst Loss: vs #156 Brown, 45-43

I think it rules that Georgetown is 9-2 after new head coach Tasha Butts passed away right before Media Day this season. Good for them.

DePaul Blue Demons: #90

Record: 8-5, 1-0 Big East
Scoring Leader: Anaya Peoples, 19.3 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Anaya Peoples, 8.1 rpg
Assists Leader: Anaya Peoples, 3.8 apg
Best Win: vs #36 Green Bay, 68-64
Worst Loss: vs #99 South Dakota on a neutral floor, 83-71

I respect Doug Bruno for going about scheduling for this season like absolutely nothing is different from about five years ago when the Blue Demons were a perennial contender in the Big East. That’s what got them a 5-5 start to the season because, uh, well, DePaul had a massive roster exodus in the offseason and clearly Things Have Not Been Like They Used To Be in Lincoln Park for a while now. They have won their last three games, including their Big East opener, to get to 8-5 at the moment, although no one’s putting up a statue to mark any of those three victories.

I’m a little worried about DePaul from the perspective of Anaya Peoples can’t be asked to do all of that work for the Blue Demons every single night. It has a very strong “this is what y’all were doing last year with Aneesah Morrow and that didn’t work out” vibe to it, but Peoples has a supporting cast helping her pretty well. There’s two other double digit scorers, Jorie Allen isn’t that far off the pace on the glass, and Kaitlyn Gilbert is just barely behind her in the assists department. Even the defense is much improved from the last five or six seasons. It’s not great, ranking at #143 according to Her Hoop Stats right now, but that’s better than #299 last year or #305 the year before.

St. John’s Red Storm: #94

Record: 7-6, 1-0 Big East
Scoring Leader: Unique Drake, 20.0 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Jillian Archer, 7.6 rpg
Assists Leader: Ber’Nyah Mayo, 3.6 apg
Best Win: vs #56 Villanova, 51-46
Worst Loss: at #177 Monmouth, 74-69

I dare you to go out and find a St. John’s women’s basketball fan that’s ultra-excited about the contract extension that head coach Joe Tartamella received after the end of last season. The Johnnies have won three straight at the moment to get back above .500 after starting out the year 2-5, including an oh-fer against VCU, UCF, and Jackson State at the Discover Puerto Rico Classic during Feast Week. None of these are exceptionally awful losses, and they took that loss at Monmouth in the second game of the season. However, this is not the kind of start to the season that you want to see fresh off winning a First Four game last March and the coach getting a contract extension.

Now, odds always were that this season, especially in the beginning, was always going to be a rough go of it for Tartamella and the Red Storm due to how much roster turnover they saw from last season. With that said, that roster turnover was almost entirely created by Tartamella constructing his roster for last season the way he chose to prioritize fifth year players. With the losses already in the rearview mirror, I don’t know if the Johnnies are really playing for a postseason spot any longer. On top of that, their top two scorers are fifth year players yet again, so there’s going to have to be another major readjustment next season.....

Butler Bulldogs: #130

Record: 8-4, 0-1 Big East
Scoring Leader: Caroline Strande, 14.7 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Caroline Strande, 7.6 rpg
Assists Leader: Ari Wiggins, 3.2 apg
Best Win: at #101 Wisconsin, 59-51
Worst Loss: at #147 Pacific, 77-66

No one’s going to try and tell you that being a sub-100 NET team on Christmas is a good thing. However, I am going to tell you that Butler is a lot better off than they were last year in the win/loss column. The Bulldogs were 5-7 overall on Christmas Day last season, and they were already 0-3 in Big East games based on how last year’s 20 game slate shook out. 8-4 is better than that, even if it took a non-D1 game and three sub-200 NET wins to get there. Whatever! Head coach Austin Parkinson’s job is to make the Bulldogs better and sometimes winning games, no matter who the competition, is the most important thing to do in that regard.

I’ll even give them a teeny bit of a pass on the loss to Pacific. The Tigers aren’t awful, and they were playing a road game as part of a Feast Week event. Butler fell behind 10-2 early in that one, and it was tied midway through the third and a five point game with three minutes left. Is Butler going to be a little bit better because of those tribulations? That’s the hope, of course. They’re four wins away from surpassing their total from last year, Parkinson’s first in charge, and they need seven in league play to do better than their 6-14 mark a year ago.

Providence Friars: #142

Record: 6-7, 0-1 Big East
Scoring Leader: Olivia Olsen, 15.0 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Olivia Olsen, 8.3 rpg
Assists Leader: Marta Morales, 2.3 apg
Best Win: vs #75 Rhode Island, 51-50
Worst Loss: vs #280 Kennesaw State on a neutral floor, 53-51

Let me drop a couple extra facts on you here as you consider PC as a top 150 NET team:

  • They also have a loss at #156 Brown in the crosstown rivalry game.
  • They also have a 61-49 loss at home to #257 Iona, which has a first year head coach, just like Providence does.
  • The loss to Kennesaw State is their most recent game, dropping the Friars back under .500 after a 3-5 start.
  • After Providence got to 6-4 on the year with a 31 point win over Sacred Heart, their NET peaked for the season — at least for the time being — at #126.

So things could be going much better for first year head coach Erin Batth. They could also be going so much worse, and they might be going in that direction. Kylee Sheppard and Grace Efosa were notable names a year ago, and they have missed PC’s last seven and eight games respectively. Even worse, Olivia Olsen missed the Kennesaw State game, and, uh, feels like they might have been able to make use of her as they blew a 50-31 lead with seven minutes to play. Yes, that’s a 22-1 run.

If Sheppard, Efosa, and Olsen are all out long terms.... yeah, I don’t like PC’s chances in Big East play.

Xavier Musketeers: #308

Record: 1-9, 0-1 Big East
Scoring Leader: Mackayla Scarlett, 13.4 ppg
Rebounding Leader: Nila Blackford, 9.2 rpg
Assists Leader: Tae’lor Purvis, 3.1 apg
Only Win: vs #277 SIU Edwardsville, 68-43
Worst Loss: at #317 Miami (OH), 58-57 in overtime

Yes, Xavier is a sub-300 NET team. You’re not reading that wrong. It gets worse: This is an improvement for them, as the NET debuted when they were 0-7.... and that meant that they were #332 in the country. Beating SIUE jumped them into the top 300 until they lost to DePaul in their Big East opener.

Xavier was 7-23 last season and 0-20 in Big East play. They are, at 1-8 in non-league games, ostensibly worse than they were last season when they finished the season at #220 in the NET, and that got Melanie Moore fired. First year head coach Billi Chambers at least has a little bit of leeway given that Xavier had to cancel one game and postpone another because they didn’t have enough players available to compete back in early December. There are just four players on this roster that have appeared in all 10 games so far this season. Things are so bad for the Musketeers in the injury department that volleyball star Delaney Hogan is now on the roster, although she hasn’t played in the two games since the announcement was made.

Mackayla Scarlett was also lost to injury in the same game right before the canceled game, and she’s not officially ruled out for the year yet apparently. With that said, the next leading scorer on the team is Aizhanique Mayo, who is averaging 10.5 points per game.... after making her season debut two games ago after 1) leaving Marquette in November right before the 2022-23 season started, 2) transferring to Iona at the semester break, and 2) following Chambers from Iona to Xavier. This in and of itself is not a problem for Xavier.... but the fact that no one else on the roster has risen up the charts in a dramatic fashion without Scarlett in the lineup isn’t a good sign.