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Big East national media projections 2019-’20

Madness fans

Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches

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 over 20 full Big East projections, but this time from reputable national sites instead of the MU blogosphere. The results are below.

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From a quick look, the consensus seems to form around there being 3 tiers of very closely bound teams: two at the top, 5 in the middle, and 3 at the bottom. The middle in particular seems to have a bit of a logjam, but let’s break down the tiers individually.

Tier 1: Villanova, Seton Hall

Villanova looks much different than it has in previous years, but the projection remains pretty much the same: head of the Big East class, same as it’s been each of the past 5 years. And when those 5 years have resulted in 4 first place finishes, it’s a pretty safe bet to go with Jay Wright. The only pundit to not have Villanova in the top-2 was Andy Katz, who pits them 3rd  best in the conference.

Seton Hall has been a media darling much of the summer and into fall, and they drew 7 first place votes to finish with an average rank of 2.2. The last time Hall was ranked 2nd was just 2 years ago going into the 2018 season, where they finished 3rd.

Tier 2a: Xavier, Marquette

Xavier brings back the core of a team that finished the season on a strong note, and has national media betting on that run. They are a pretty clear 3rd in the conglomerate, closer to the top tier than the bottom of this one.

Marquette, on the other hand, is not as uniform in their predicted finish. They are as high as 2 in KenPom, but as low as 7 in Blue Ribbon, with six 6s as well. With the roster turnover it’s clear Marquette will be different, the media just can’t come to a consensus whether that’s a positive or a negative. Marquette has matched or beaten it’s predicted spot in the Big East each of the past 3 years.

Tier 2b: Creighton, Providence, Georgetown

While you can definitely make a case that these 3 teams all belong in the same tier as X or MU, the numbers have them so close together, and uniformly distant from the top of the tier, that I thought it made more sense to demarcate them separately.

Creighton has a high of 2 (3 Man Weave) and a low of 7 (5 places, including the Big East coaches and Ken Pom) and comes with a caveat that most of these predictions were made without the knowledge that big man Jacob Epperson would be out for the season, and returning starter Davion Minz would be out for a good chunk of the nonconference season. That would have definitely altered the view of the Jays.

Providence may be the toughest team to slot, with the pundits placing them as high as 1st (Matt Norlander, and as low as 7th (10 separate media members). They were one of the bigger underperfomers of the consensus last year, but bring back most of the key pieces as well as adding some scoring on the perimeter.

Georgetown would have a word with Providence, though, in terms of who the bigger enigma is. Andy Katz pits them 2nd while Jerry Carino has them 9th. However, there is more consensus around the Hoyas being a bottom of the Big East team, than Providence, they just happen to have more pronounced outliers.

Tier 3: Butler, DePaul, St. John’s

Butler was the most consistent of all the Big East teams, where almost 3/4 of pundits pegged them to finish 8th, matching the exact average and median. It’s rare to see this type of consensus anywhere but 1st or 10th, but the Buldogs will have plenty of “nobody believes in us” motivation throughout the year.

For the 6th time in 7 years post reformation, DePaul is predicted by the coaches to finish 10th in the league. You can’t really blame them, as the Blue Demons have lived up to those meager expectation 4 times, never finishing above 8th. However, the media as a whole seems to think DePaul will be a tad better than St. John’s, with an average of 9.4 to the Johnnies 9.5.

And speaking of the Johnnies, a new coach and an almost entire overhaul of last season’s underwhelming roster puts them at the bottom of our consensus standings for the 2020 season. Nowhere to go but up, right?

And in case you are putting a ton of stock into the exact placement of these predictions, you probably shouldn’t. The actual results from last year only hit on 4 of the 10 places, and were off by 2+ places in the other 6.

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So remember, this is a good look at a snapshot into what the expectations are going into the season in terms of tiers, but not a good way to determine where to wager your money.

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 DePaul in their top 144, so those they were assigned a ranking of 145.)

 

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This paints a bit of a different picture than just looking at it positionally. Sure, Villanova is still the head of the class, but Seton Hall is now not just closer to Tier 2, but only decimal places ahead of Xavier and Marquette on average.

Of course, the average only has 9 inputs compared to 20+ above, but you can blame the pundits for putting out more comprehensive looks.

Coming back to these actual results, it does bring up something missing from the narrative this offseason. Even though most pundits are predicting a banner year from the Big East, the actual rankings would tell you that we are more likely to see a repeat of last year, without any top tier NCAA seeds and instead a smattering of middling seeds. Just look at how similar it does look to last year’s compilation as a whole:

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So be sure to bookmark this and tell me how wrong/right this and other predictions were, and we’ll reconvene next March to see how things held up.

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