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Big East pundit projections 2018-’19

Big East Tournament

(USA TODAY Sports)

This is a Marquette focused blog, so I usually keep most posts MU-centric. But it never hurts to take a broader look at the landscape going into a season, to better gauge individual results as the season starts up.

So like I do for the Marquette pundit predictions, I rounded up 15 full Big East projections from reputable national sites. The results are below.

BEast projection.JPG

The first thing that pops out is the uniformity at both the very top and the very bottom. Usually when putting together wide-ranging forecast, there is at least some variance, but anyone and everyone thinks Villanova will lead the pack, while DePaul comes in last.

However, most of the chatter on twitter this summer has said 2-9 in the Big East will be interchangeable, with very little separating 2nd from 9th. The average of projections tells a bit of a different story, separating the conference into 5 tiers.

Tier 1: Villanova

The defending national champions run this town, end of story.

Tier 2: Marquette

Marquette isn’t unanimous 2nd place selections like Nova is for 1st, but 10 of the 15 I tracked have Marquette finishing second, with 5th being the basement. (And NBC, one of the outlets pitting MU 5th is split depending on which author you go by. Rob Dauster has MU finishing 2nd and top-25 in the country, while Travis Hines has them 5th, up from 8th in his earlier iteration of projections. I went with Hines, as that article was the official NBC Big East preview.)

Tier 3: Xavier, St. John’s, Butler, Providence

The composite for these 4 squads has them all separated by only .8 spots, between 4.3 and 5.1. But the top and bottom end variance for each of these teams is huge. KenPom has Xavier finishing 8th, while Lindy’s and NBC have them 2nd. CBS thinks the Johnnies will be 2nd while College Sports Madness has them 8th. The coaches have Providence 3rd but ESPN’s John Gasaway has them 8th. Jon Rothstein has Butler all the way down to 9th while Andy Katz has them 3rd.

You get the picture. Individual projections are rarely reliable in isolation, that’s why I like taking a wide look. But that wide look has the battle for 3rd through 6th a complete tossup.

Tier 4: Seton Hall, Georgetown, Creighton

After tier 3 there is a clear gap between this group, which is again only separated by .8 spots, between 6.9 and 7.7. That’s not to say all projections are pessimistic. TRank thinks Seton Hall will finish 2nd, KenPom thinks Creighton will be 4th and Rothstein thinks the Hoyas are 5th.

Tier 5: DePaul

On one hand, DePaul has its best KenPom positioning to start a season in at least 8 years, probably closer to 12, the last time they finished in the top 100 (before last year, but they started at 115).

So even though there is uniformity in having DePaul at the bottom, this could be one of the most talented teams they have put on the floor this decade.

National Projections

Individual conference positioning can leave a lot to be desired. The difference between 2nd and 5th seems large, but zooming out, could be just a handful of rankings away, like it has been traditionally in the Big East. So I took all of the full D1 projections from national sites and plugged them in once more. (College Sports Madness didn’t have Creighton or DePaul in their top 144, so those teams were assigned a ranking of 144 and 145, respectively.

Capture.JPG

Again, Villanova is the clear favorite while DePaul is the clear caboose. Marquette is safely in its own tier, but closer to 6th (Providence) than 1st. There are going to be zany results all conference season.

The positive to all these projections will be very few opportunities for “bad losses.” The only Q3 game any team is projected play this season, using this roundup, is home against DePaul. When 17 of your 18 games are either Q1 or Q2, you won’t be lacking come conference time, no matter what the NET (nee RPI) rankings end up looking like.

However, unlike previous years, there will only be 1 marquee opponent all year, and that’s Villanova. As it stands, the only Q1 home games any team is projected to host using these rankings will be against Nova and Marquette. A great resume doesn’t necessary require a handful of top end victories, but there is a chance that the middle of the conference eats itself up, and we have 8 teams at 9-9 or 10-8, making for a bubble-filled last few weeks of February. Positive non-conference results from the conference as a whole will pay dividends come Tourney time, while a down season could artificially limit bids.

All of this is to say, the Big East will be a wild ride. Get ready.

 

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Previews

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