Big East Women’s preview

November 6, 2021

Player of the Year: guard Paige Bueckers, UConn

Freshman of the Year: guard Azzi Fudd, UConn

1. UConn

2021: 28-2 (18-0 Big East)

After returning to the Big East in 2020-21 and running through the competition to the tune of an 18-0 in-conference record, No. 2 UConn will look to continue their run of dominance in both the Big East and the NCAA. The Huskies are returning all five starters from last year’s Final Four team and will be led by sophomore point guard Paige Bueckers, who became the first freshman to win the AP Player of the Year in 2020. Bueckers will be joined by top freshman recruit Azzi Fudd as they seek their second straight Big East title and compete for their twelfth National Championship.

2. DePaul

2021: 14-10 (11-5 Big East)

The Blue Demons had one of the best offenses in the nation last year, finishing eighth overall in points per game at 81.5, and will attempt to replicate that elite scoring with all five starters returning. Leading that potent offense will be senior guard Sonya Morris, a unanimous All-Big East First-Team selection after averaging 18.5 points per game last year. While it might take a bit of luck to outpace UConn in the regular season, DePaul has the best chance of catching fire in the Big East tournament and dethroning the Huskies en route to the Blue Demons’s potential sixth title since 2014.

3. Seton Hall

2021: 14-7 (12-5 Big East)

The Pirates were the only program with three players on the Big East First Team last season, but with the transfer of star forward Desiree Elmore to Rhode Island, more responsibility will fall to graduate guard Andra Espinoza-Hunter (18.6 PPG) and breakout junior forward Lauren Park-Lane (17.5 PPG). Park-Lane exploded in a big way last year, winning Big East Most Improved Player, but with the loss of Elmore and others, it’ll be a tough task for the Pirates to improve on last season’s third place finish.

4. Marquette

2021: 19-7 (14-4 Big East)

Unfortunately for Marquette, they lost two of their three leading scorers from last year’s second place team with guard Selena Lott off to the WNBA and junior forward Camryn Taylor transferring to Virginia. Despite these losses, the Golden Eagles hope to advance to their fifth straight NCAA Tournament. They bolstered their roster with standout transfers including redshirt sophomore forward Kennedi Myles (Illinois) and All-Big Ten First Team graduate guard Karissa McLaughlin (Purdue). With McLaughlin and graduate forward Lauren Van Kleunen, Marquette should have enough to secure their fifth straight March Madness invite.

5. Villanova

2021: 17-7 (9-5 Big East)

Last year, Villanova was a surprise upstart under first-year coach Denise Dillon, securing an invite to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. For the Wildcats to improve on last season’s outcome and into the tournament, they’re going to have to rely on junior forward Maddy Siegrist, who led the Big East in scoring a year ago (22.8 PPG) and was one of only two Big East players to average more than 20 a game (with Bueckers). Villanova likely can’t compete with the likes of UConn, but they should be able to repeat a semi-finals appearance in the Big East Tournament.

6. St. John’s

2021: 8-15 (4-12 Big East)

The highlight of St. John’s last season was sophomore (now junior) guard Leilani Correa, who averaged 17.6 points per game en route to an All-Big East First Team selection. The Red Storm, however, failed to capitalize on Correa’s scoring, sputtering to a 4-12 Big East record. On the bright side, St John’s will return with four starters (including Correa) and add two key transfers—graduate forward Danielle Patterson (Indiana) and senior forward Danielle Cosgrove (Notre Dame)—which should fortify their roster for a potential surprise run in the Big East Tournament.

7. Creighton

2021: 10-12 (6-7 Big East)

The Bluejays were able to wreak some havoc upon the Big East Tournament last year with their upset of the third-seeded Seton Hall Pirates, but after an uninspiring 6-7 Big East record, it’s unlikely that Creighton will be competing for a top seed in the conference. However, they will welcome back sophomore forward Emma Ronsiek, who was second on the team in scoring during her freshman season (11.6 PPG). Ronsiek will look to build upon her All-Freshman Team selection and lead the Bluejays in the Big East Tournament where they can perhaps repeat a Cinderella performance with an upset or two. 

8. Providence

2021: 7-14 (4-10 Big East)

Providence will use this season as a transition year with a completely revamped lineup and eight incoming players, including two transfers and six freshmen. Luckily, one of their new freshmen, forward Emily Archibald, is a promising two-time Gatorade Player of the Year for her home state of Maine. It’ll be up to head coach Jim Crowley to figure out the rotations with so many new bodies in the locker room, but if he can build around double-double machine Mary Baskerville (19 points, 11 rebounds per 40 minutes), the Friars have a puncher’s chance of shooting up the Big East standings.

9. Georgetown

2021: 2-15 (2-14 Big East)

Continuity will be the key for the Hoyas this year. After a delayed start to last season—in which Georgetown played just a single non-conference game due to the COVID-19 pandemic—the Hoyas were never able to find their groove. This year, they’ll welcome back all but two players, including standout freshman (now sophomore) guard Kelsey Ransom, and are adding a couple transfers and freshmen to the roster. While Georgetown wasn’t able to exceed its low expectations last year finishing with a 2-15 record, a bit of stability and roster depth could make them marginally better in 2021.

10. Xavier

2021: 5-10 (2-8 Big East)

The Xavier Musketeers were also impeded by COVID-19 last season, when they were only able to play 10 conference games (going 2-8). In the offseason, the program underwent a massive overhaul, adding seven incoming players—three of them freshmen. The best case scenario for the Musketeers is that their second and third leading scorers from last year, redshirt sophomore guard Nia Clark and junior guard Kae Satterfield respectively, are able to make leaps in their game. It depends on head coach Melanie Moore’s success in piecing together a solid rotation, but it’s looking like a development year for Xavier.

11. Butler

2021: 3-17 (3-15 Big East)

In the 2020-21 season, Butler was outscored by an average margin of 19.3 points per game. Suffice to say, the Bulldogs did not have their best year. Making matters worse, Butler will need to replace three of their starters from last season. While second-leading scorer and graduate guard Genesis Parker returns and the team gains transfers graduate forward Celena Taborn (Furman) and redshirt freshman guard Kendall Wingler (Eastern Kentucky), this team’s lack of any consistent scoring condemns it towards the bottom of the conference for the foreseeable future.

Rankings by the Voice. 

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