Tier One: Conference Elite
1 Marquette, which topped both the BIG EAST regular season standings as well as the conference tournament last season, is the consensus pick to return to the top of the conference ranks this season. With the exception of first-round NBA draft pick Olivier-Maxence Prosper, much of the roster is returning for this season, including 2022-23 BIG EAST Player of the Year Tyler Kolek. Putting Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles among the conference’s elite is a safe bet.
2 UConn lost three of last year’s starters to the professional ranks this offseason, including All-BIG EAST First Team guard Jordan Hawkins, but they’ve brought in five-star recruit and BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Stephon Castle, as well as Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer to compensate. It’s hard to bet against the defending national champions, so look for the Huskies to dominate the BIG EAST standings this year and make yet another successful run in the NCAA tournament.
3 Creighton is another easy pick for the top tier of the BIG EAST, especially after making an impressive run to the Elite Eight last season. While the Bluejays lost starters Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Nembhard to the transfer portal this offseason, they’ll return pivotal playmaker Ryan Kalkbrenner, who is a two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. Their powerful defense will continue to earn Creighton wins throughout conference play.
Tier Two: On the Bubble
4 Putting St. John’s this high is my boldest prediction in these rankings, and it all has to do with their new head coach: Rick Pitino, the only head coach in men’s college basketball to win a national championship at multiple schools. Described as “the greatest college coach in the history of the sport” by none other than Georgetown’s own Ed Cooley at BIG EAST Media Day, Pitino cleaned house when he arrived at St. John’s, with only big man Joel Soriano remaining on an otherwise brand-new roster. I could have put the Red Storm anywhere on this list, but I believe in the power of Pitino and think they could make an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.
5 Villanova was the king of the BIG EAST for the past decade, but it will take some time to return to dominance under second-year head coach Kyle Neptune. The departures of Cam Whitmore, Brandon Slater, and Caleb Daniels open the door for many questions about the Wildcats this year. But Villanova has been a great team for decades—I can’t imagine them being terrible. I think this year will be another step toward the Wildcats returning to elite status.
6 Coming off a second-place BIG EAST finish and an exciting run to the Sweet Sixteen last season, the big question for Xavier this time around is whether or not they can continue that momentum into this season. It will be a challenge—star guard Colby Jones went to the NBA, and Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter are starting the season out with injuries. The Musketeers will have to rely on sophomore guard Desmond Claude and a strong incoming freshman and transfer class to pick up the slack.
7 In addition to being the name of a city in Rhode Island, Providence is also a word that means divine guidance, or care under God. I think that’s interesting, considering Providence may be in need of some divine guidance after losing three of their starters as well as head coach Ed Cooley. The Friars retain Bryce Hopkins, their best player from last year who was First Team All-BIG EAST, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the Friars will land in the standings under first-year coach Kim English.
Tier Three: Maybe Next Year
8 Head coach Shaheen Holloway’s first year at Seton Hall resulted in an extremely average campaign, with the Pirates finishing seventh in the BIG EAST standings and making an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. After losing three of their starters but retaining top scorer Al-Amir Dawes and team assists leader Kadary Richmond, the Pirates seem to be bound for another mundane season in the middle of the BIG EAST.
9 It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how well Georgetown will do this season, but I guarantee that the Hoyas will be better than they were last year. Most of us have seen Cooley and his players around campus or have at least heard of their efforts to reenergize the Hoya fanbase. However, their on-court performance may leave more to be desired. A brand-new roster featuring Texas transfer Rowan Brumbaugh and Jayden Epps from Illinois will make noise, but depth is a major concern for this team with only nine scholarship players on the roster.
10 Butler was among the bottom-feeders in the BIG EAST last season, with the Bulldogs accomplishing the embarrassing feat of losing to Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown team in February. The offseason was not kind to them either, with eight players transferring out. The BIG EAST’s 2021 Freshman of the Year Posh Alexander will transfer in from St. John’s to save Butler from complete disaster, but I can confidently say that this team will not be good.
11 Like Butler and Georgetown, DePaul also saw a lot of key players leave in the transfer portal this offseason, including top scorer Umoja Gibson. Head coach Tony Stubblefield is going to need to have something up his sleeve to make this team decent, and considering he hasn’t made much noise in his first two years as head coach, the Blue Demons are likely bound for yet another campaign at the bottom of the conference.