2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big East

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

The Big East use to be a traditional powerhouse, but it’s just been the Villanova-conference the past few seasons. This year isn’t much different, but Creighton and the return of UConn will make it a bit more difficult this season.

Let’s take a closer look at the Big East!

Conference Preview
Valedictorian: Villanova
Top of the Class: Creighton, Connecticut, Seton Hall
Needs Tutoring: St. John’s, Providence, Marquette, Xavier
Failing: Georgetown, Butler, DePaul

Players to Watch
* Collin Gillespie, Villanova
(6-3 SR Guard): Maybe the best PG in college basketball this season. Runs Jay Wright’s offense to perfection and if Villanova is a title contender, Gillespie will be a National Player of the Year contender as well.
* Bryce Aiken, Seton Hall (6-0 SR Guard): There’s no replacing Myles Powell, but the Harvard transfer will likely be the new go-to Pirate this season for Seton Hall if Aiken stays healthy.
* Bryan Antoine, Villanova (6-5 SO Guard): Expect a breakout year from the former McDonald’s All-American after injuries derailed his freshman campaign.
* Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton (6-2 JR Guard): The league’s returning scorer should have another big season. Zegarowski is a great scorer (16.1 PPG last season) and well-rounded point guard who will look to lead Creighton to a Big East title.
* Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova (6-9 SO Forward): In a guard-heavy conference, Robinson-Earl is by far the best big man averaging nearly 10-10 last season.

Final Take
Three teams could contend for the Big East crown, but I still feel Villanova should have everyone in their rear-view. The Wildcats only loss one player from last year’s 24-win team and while that player was their best player (Saddiq Bey, 16.1 PPG), Villanova still features a top tier PG (Gillespie), multiple standout guards (Justin Moore, Bryan Antoine, and Caleb Daniels), and a great big man down low (Robinson-Earl).

Villanova will likely be a contender for both the Big East title and the NCAA title, but don’t sleep on Creighton. Creighton would’ve been a top five team if Ty-Shon Alexander would’ve stuck around one more year. Nonetheless, with four returning scorers and the addition of Ryan Kalkbrenner will still lead them to a top ten ranking some time this season.

UConn rejoins the conference and will shake things up a bit, but don’t expect the UConn of old to take over the conference. At least not this season. UConn is more likely to compete with the likes of Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Providence for that third spot in the conference.

Georgetown looked to be building back up as a contender in the Big East, but the loss of Mac McClung hurt bad. Still, the Hoyas will be the strongest team in the conference with some good interior players, but lack of guards, especially defensively, will hurt them throughout the season.

Marquette, Butler, and Xavier are still going through a bit of a rebuild after some success a few years back in the conference while DePaul remain the cellar team of the conference.