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Big East MBB – Preseason Preview & Projection 2021-2022

If you’re just starting to pay attention to Big East hoops again (or any college sports for that matter), there are 2 game-changing NCAA rule updates to note for the 2021-2022 season:

  1. All athletes who were eligible during 2020-2021 were granted an unprecedented additional year of eligibility due to Covid. So, all players that were eligible to play last year have 5 total years of NCAA eligibility.
  2. All athletes this year (and going forward indefinitely) are now allowed a 1-time penalty free transfer. So, players will no longer have to sit out a year to be eligible to transfer among D-1 schools as in years past. Thus, the transfer portal was especially spicy this year.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s get into the preseason preview and projection!

Projected Big East MBB Standings:

  1. Villanova
  2. Xavier
  3. St. Johns
  4. UConn
  5. Seton Hall
  6. Butler
  7. Providence
  8. Creighton
  9. Georgetown
  10. Marquette
  11. DePaul

Projected NCAA Tournament Outlook for the Big East:

  • One Seed Potential – Villanova
  • Locks – Xavier, St John’s, UConn
  • Bubble – Seton Hall, Butler
  • Better Luck Next Year – Everyone Else

Big East Team Projections

1. Villanova

Departures:

  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F – NBA
  • Cole Swider, F – Transfer to Cuse
  • Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree F – Medical retirement, sat out all of 20-21 with injury
  • Kyle Neptune, AC – New Fordham HC. Neptune was Nova’s longest tenured Assistant

Returners/Additions:

  • #3 Big East Recruiting Class (by average recruit ranking) – Freshman are not listed individually as they’re largely unknown quantities at the college level at this point
  • Collin Gillespie, G – Returning extra-year senior
  • Jermaine Samuels, F – Returning extra-year senior
  • Justin Moore G
  • Jermaine Samuels F
  • Caleb Daniels G
  • Brandon Slater F
  • Eric Dixon F
  • Bryan Antoine G
  • Chris Arcidiacono G
  • Trey Patterson F

The kings of the New Big East remain so until someone takes their crown. They lost in the Big East Tournament last year (without Gillespie and Moore) but they did win the regular season. Robinson-Earl left for the NBA, but with Gillespie and Samuels returning for another go around the rest of the Big East will probably have to wait at least another year before attempting to usurp the crown. However, aside from Gillespie, Samuels, Moore and Caleb Daniels there is not a lot of experience for Jay Wright’s squad. No one aside from those 4 averaged 4 or more ppg last year .  If the team fails to fill in around the big 4 or there are key injuries Gillespie and Samuels may find themselves wishing that they didn’t come back for that 5th year of play.

2. Xavier

Departures:

  • C.J. Wilcher G –  Transfer to Nebraska
  • Bryan Griffin F – Pro
  • Jason Carter F – Senior Transfer to Ohio U
  • Daniel Ramsey F – Transfer to Tenn Tech

Returners/Additions:

  • KyKy Tandy G – Opted out of Transfer Portal
  • Paul Scruggs G – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Nate Johnson G – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Jack Nunge F – Transfer from Iowa
  • Jerome Hunter F – Transfer from Indiana
  • Zach Freemantle F
  • Colby Jones G
  • Adam Kunkel G
  • Dwon Odom G
  • Ben Stanley F
  • Danny Ramsey F
  • Dieonte Miles F

The Musketeers floundered down the stretch last season and missed the NCAAT entirely but that seems more due to untimely and lengthy Covid pauses more than anything else. X gets a boon in returning extra-year seniors in Scruggs and Johnson, Iowa transfer Nunge, and Tandy opting to return back to the fold. Zach Freemantle is the Big East’s co-Most Improved Player and earned 2021 Second Team All Big East honors along with Scruggs. Colby Jones also earned a spot on the Big East Freshman Team last year. The Baseline Times also expects Dwon Odom to improve upon his stellar 20-21 campaign and earn Big East Sixth Man of the Year honors. This squad should be deep and experienced – no excuses for Head Coach Travis Steele if he can’t get it done this year. This probably means a top 3 finish in the Big East and at least a 7 seed in the NCAAT. Winning the Big East tournament or regular season would not hurt either. Anything less than the above and Steele’s seat will be as hotter than a $2 pistol. 

3. St. John’s

Departures:

  • Rasheem Dunn G – Senior Transfer to Robert Morris
  • Greg Williams Jr G – Transfer to ULL
  • Marcellus Earlington G/F – Transfer to USD
  • Josh Roberts F – Transfer to Manhattan
  • John McGriff G – Transfer to Binghamton
  • Vince Cole G – Transfer to Coastal Carolina
  • Isaih Moore F – Transfer to Southern Miss
  • David Caraher G – Departed team early last season

Returners/Additions:

  • Aaron Wheeler F – Transfer from Purdue
  • Stef Smith G – Transfer from UVM
  • Joel Soriano F – Transfer from Fordham
  • Montez Mathis G – Transfer from Rutgers
  • Esahia Nyiwe F – Transfer from Texas Tech
  • Julian Champagnie F – Elected not to go to NBA Draft
  • Posh Alexander G
  • Dylan Addae-Wusu G
  • Arnaldo Toro F
  • Aremios Gavalas G

The Red Storm lost almost all of their leading players from last year except for Champagnie and Posh. But those are the two who matter most as Champ was All Big East First Team in 20-21 and Posh made the Freshman Team and also named co-DPOY. If St John’s had returned those two plus most of the rest of their squad, they might have been battling Nova for control of the Big East. However, HC Mike Anderson did bring in some impact transfers in Wheeler, Smith, Soriano, and Mathis so they don’t slide far. In fact, these incoming transfers may be even better than the players they lost but there is something to be said about continuity and development in a system. So, the Johhnies could be feast or famine this year. If the team gels and the role players fit in around Champ and Posh they could be sitting very pretty. If not, it could be a long season in Queens.  Basketball is a game of star power and the Johnnies boast two of the 7 or 8 best players in the league.  I think this ends up as a banner year for the Johnnies. 

4. UConn

Departures:

  • James Bouknight, G – NBA
  • Josh Carlton, F/C – Senior Transfer to Houston
  • Branden Adams, G – Transfer to George Washington
  • Javonte Brown-Ferguson C – Transfer to Texas A&M, did not play in 20-21
  • Kevin Freeman AC – Stepping down from on-court coaching role to an admin role to spend time with family.

Returners/Additions:

  • Big East’s #2 Ranked 2021 Recruiting Class (#1 by avg recruit ranking)
  • Luke Murray AC – Son of Bill Murray but a talent in his own right. Coached under Hurley at URI and Wagner.
  • R.J. Cole G
  • Tyrese Martin G
  • Isaiah Whaley F – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Tyler Polley F – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Adama Sanogo F
  • Jalen Gaffney G
  • Andre Jackson G
  • Akok Akok F
  • Richie Springs F
  • Andrew Hurley G

The Huskies suffer the biggest single player loss on this list in G James Bouknight to the NBA. Last year, when they had to play without Bouk they were barely a .500 team… but this will likely help the squad this year as they’ve already had to adjust to life without last year’s star. Whaley returning for another year is huge for UConn as he is the reigning Big East co-DPOY and they need his size, depth, experience, and versatility (nicknamed the Wrench). Sanogo was named to the Big East All Freshman Team and expects to make an even bigger jump in his sophomore season. Fellow Soph Andre Jackson is freak-of-nature athletic and also expected to make a jump. Cole and Martin were transfers last season that seemed to find their stride with the team and the conference as the season progressed. If Junior C/F Akok Akok can return to his 2019 form from achilles injury and their terrific recruiting class can contribute, UConn should find itself in the upper echelon of the Big East once again.

5. Seton Hall

Departures:

  • Sandro Mamukelashvili F – NBA
  • Shavar Reynolds G – Transfer to Monmouth
  • Takal Molson G – Transfer to JMU

Returners/Additions

  • Jamir Harris G – Transfer from American
  • Kadary Richmond G – Transfer from Cuse
  • Alexis Yetna F – Transfer from USF
  • Myles Cale G
  • Jared Rhoden G/F
  • Ike Obiagu C
  • Tyrese Samuel F
  • Bryce Aiken G
  • Jahari Long G
  • Tray Jackson F

After Bouknight and UConn, Seton Hall losing Mamu is likely the second biggest single player loss in the Big East. Jared Rhoden looks to be the next man up leading the Pirates in a one-man wrecking crew linage that seems to go Myles Powell-Mamu-and now to Rhoden. Myles Cale will play Robin to Rhoden’s Batman and defensive stalwart transfers Yetna and Richmond look to make a big impact in their first year in the Big East. Richmond in particular, has been getting hyped up as an incredibly cerebral defender who can fill out a stat sheet. Obiagu still anchors the defense and provides elite rim protection. The Pirates will be long, tough, and exceptionally hard to score on. Expect a lot of slug fests out of this squad.

6. Butler

Departures

  • JaKobe Coles – Transfer to TCU
  • Markeese Hastings F – Transfer to WMU but opted out of most of 20-21 season.

Returners/Additions

  • Ty Groce F – Transfer from Eastern Michigan
  • Chuck Harris G
  • Aaron Thompson G
  • Jair Bolden G
  • Bryce Nze F
  • Bryce Golden F
  • Bo Hodges G
  • Myles Tate G
  • Myles Wilmouth F
  • John-Michael Mulloy F
  • Christian David G

Butler is certainty the most experienced team in the Big East, maybe the most experienced team in the entire country from top to bottom. Of the eight returners/incoming transfers who expect to see significant playing time, six are seniors (five of whom are redshirt seniors). Heck, at this rate the Bulldogs rotation might be older on average than the OKC Thunder who have an average age of 23.5. The one starter who is not a senior, Chuck Harris, was their best scorer last year as a freshman and potentially their best player in 21-22. Aaron Thompson is the team leader and facilitator, averaging 4.7 apg and all of the starters have the ability to average 10+ ppg. Butler battled with health issues last year but if they have better luck in that regard and Harris takes a step forward like expected LaVall Jordan’s squad will be in the hunt for an at-large bid.

7. Providence

Departures

  • David Duke G – NBA
  • Greg Gantt F – Transfer to NC State
  • Jimmy Nichols F – Transfer to VCU

Additions/Returners

  • Aljami Durham G – Transfer from Indiana
  • Justin Minaya F – Transfer from South Carolina
  • Nate Watson C – Extra year senior
  • Noah Horchler F – Extra year senior
  • A.J. Reeves G
  • Jared Bynum G
  • Alyn Breed G
  • Brycen Goodine G
  • Ed Croswell F

Ed Cooley’s squad got a huge lift when C Nate Watson decided to return for an extra year. He made a leap to almost 17 ppg in 20-21, from less than 10 ppg in 19-20. Al Durham also transfers in from Indiana averaging 11 pts, 3 rebs, and almost 3 asts per game in the Big Ten. The change of scenery should do him good, and I expect him to continue or improve that production in the Big East. He won’t fill David Duke’s shoes but AJ Reeves and Jared Bynum should be able to shoulder more of the load after another year of development.  The Friars ceiling appears to a middle of the pack finish in the Big East and perhaps one of the last few into the dance. However, Prov is always a tough out.

8. Creighton

Departures:

  • Marcus Zegarowski G – Pro
  • Mitchell Ballock G – Pro
  • Denzel Mahoney G/F – Pro
  • Christian Bishop F – Transfer to Texas
  • Damien Jefferson F – Pro

Returners/Additions:

  • #1 Recruiting Class in the Big East and #7 class in the country
  • Ryan Hawkins F – Transfer from D-II SW Missouri State
  • Keyshawn Feazell F – Transfer from McNeese State
  • Shereef Mitchell G
  • Ryan Kalkbrenner F/C
  • Alex O’Connell G
  • Rati Andronikashvili G – Medical redshirt
  • Modestas Kancleris F – Medical redshirt

The Bluejays are the youngest and least experienced squad in the Big East this year. Having lost the vast majority of their production from last year, they don’t have a player who has averaged 6 or more points in P6 play. They do bring in transfers Hawkins and Feazell who averaged 22.6 and 13.1 ppg in lesser leagues. Kalkbenner will be Creighton’s best player and premier rim protector this year. On the flip side, Coach McDermott brought in a heck of a recruiting class, the best ever in their history. It is 5 players deep, 4 of which are in the top 75 players in the 2021 class: Arthur Kaluma, Trey Alexander, Mason Miller, and Ryan Nembhard. In addition, the Bluejays get another highly touted recruit back who missed all of last year due to injury in Andronikashvili. Those 5 in fact represent the 5 best recruits that have ever signed with Creighton. The future looks bright for McDermott’s squad but this year will bring some growing pains for Creighton’s version of the Fab 5.

9. Georgetown

Departures:

  • Jahvon Blair G – Pro
  • Jamorko Pickett F – NBA G League
  • TJ Berger G – Transfer to San Diego
  • Qudus Wahab C – Transfer to Marlyand
  • Chudier Bile F
  • Jalen Harris

Returners/Additions:

  • Kaiden Rice G – Transfer from The Citadel
  • # 1 Recruit in the Big East this year
  • Chudier Bile F
  • Donald Carey G
  • Dante Harris G
  • Jalen Harris G
  • Timothy Ighoefe C
  • Collin Holloway F
  • Jamari Sibley F
  • Kobe Clark F
  • Malcolm Wilson C

Patrick Ewing had the Hoyas rolling at the end of last season. You likely know that they won the BET but you may not know that they went 10-5 to end the season with losses only to tournament teams (Nova, Creighton, UConn x2, and Colorado). Unfortunately, Georgetown lost its three most productive players from that team in Pickett, Blair, and Wahab. I expect Sophomore Dante Harris to make a leap forward this year and transfer Rice averaged 17.6 ppg for the Citadel last year. The Hoyas figured to have the services of EKU transfer Tre King but news just broke last week that he will not be with the team, a major blow for their 2021-22 season.  Georgetown didn’t bring in an overall top recruiting class but they did land the top incoming recruit in 5 star shooting guard Aminu Mohammed (there is also a familiar name in 4 star center Ryan Mutombo).  So, Ewing will have a squad to get into shape but it will be tough to replace the lost production entirely. If Ewing can get them rocking like the end of last year – look out. However, if the team doesn’t gel it could get ugly.

10. Marquette

Departures:

  • Steve Wojciechowski HC – Fired
  • Dawson Garcia F – Transfer to UNC
  • D.J. Carton – Pro
  • Theo John F – Transfer to Duke
  • Koby McEwen G – Transfer to Weber State
  • Jose Perez G – Transfer to Manhattan
  • Jamal Cain F – Transfer to Oakland

Returners/Additions:

  • Shaka Smart, HC – Hired from Texas (Before he could be fired from there)
  • Darryl Morsell G – Transfer from Maryland
  • Tyler Kolek G – Transfer from George Mason
  • Kur Kuath F – Transfer from Oklahoma
  • Olivier-Maxence Prosper F – Transfer from Clemson
  • Justin Lewis F
  • Greg Eliott G
  • Oso Ighodaro F

Shaka Smart arrives in from Texas to replace the ousted Wojo. He inherits a squad with a lot of roster turnover and lacking the best players from last year’s Golden Eagles squad in Garcia, Carton, and John. He did have success in bringing in some bigtime transfers in Morsell, Kolek, Kuath, and Maxence Prosper. It also feels like this job is a more natural fit for Smart as a Wisconsin native. He is at the helm of more of an upstart, scrappy bunch rather than the number one athletic department by revenue in the country. This is a role he thrived in at the helm of the VCU Rams.  I feel like Shaka will get the Marquette magic rolling but it will take him a few years to really contend in the Big East.

11. DePaul

Departures:

  • Dave Leitao HC – Fired
  • Romeo Weems – Pro
  • Pauly Paulicap – Transfer to WVU
  • Charlie Moore G – Transfer to Miami
  • Ray Salnave G – Transfer to UMBC
  • Kobe Elvis G – Transfer to Dayton
  • Darious Hall F – Transfer to Central Arkansas
  • Keon Edwards – Transfer to Nebraska

Returners/Additions:

  • Tony Stubblefield HC – Former Asst Coach at Oregon
  • Jalen Terry G – Transfer from Oregon
  • Brandon Johnson F – Transfer from Minnesota
  • Tyon Grant-Foster F – Transfer from Kansas
  • Philmon Gebrewhit G – JUCO Transfer
  • Yor Anei F – Transfer from SMU
  • Javan Johnson F – Transfer from Iowa St.
  • Javon Freeman-Liberty G
  • Nick Ongenda F
  • Courvoisier McCauley G
  • David Jones G/F

The Tony Stubblefield era begins in Chicago.  Dave Leitao didn’t leave the cupboard completely bare but Stubblefield had to rely on bringing in a litany of transfers.  He succeeded in bringing in others from P6 or other high-major schools.  Javon Freeman-Liberty ran the show for the Blue Demons last year (avg more than 14 ppg), we will see what Stubblefield brings to stylistically to Chicago.  He has a good pedigree and many years of experience as a long time assistant at Oregon.  He seems like a man who is up to the task of turning things around for DePaul but time will tell.


Check Out the Baseline Times’ Projected Big East Year End Awards

Projected Big East MBB Awards 2021-2022

In projecting the 2021-2022 Big East Men’s basketball season I sat down attempted to determine who will be the most significant players. My hope is that figuring out who will earn the hardware for the end of the year will allow me to reverse engineer the season for my Big East season projection (coming soon). Lets take a look, shall we?

All Big East First Team*

  • Julian Champagnie, St. John’s, G/F, Jr., Brooklyn, N.Y. – Probably the best player and NBA prospect in the Big East this year.
  • Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G, Sr., Huntingdon Valley, Pa. – One of the three 2021 co-POYs comes back for one last ride.
  • Posh Alexander, St. John’s, G, So., Brooklyn, N.Y. – 2021 co-DPOY as a freshman, if he has developed a reliable outside game over the summer look out.
  • Nate Watson, Providence, F/C, Sr., Portsmouth, Va. – Made a leap to almost 17 ppg in 20-21.
  • Zach Freemantle, Xavier, F, Jr., Teaneck, N.J. – Also made a leap to 16 ppg in 20-21, looks poised for a big 21-22.
  • Paul Scruggs, Xavier, G, Sr., Indianapolis, Ind. – Already a solid scorer and elevated his facilitation to 5.7 apg last year. Solid leader needs to be the key to give X a big 21-22.

* Six selections are made for the First Team.

All Big East Second Team

  • RJ Cole Sr., UConn, G, Sr., Union, N.J. – Former MEAC POY, Cole transferred in last season and seemed to get a feel for the Big East game as the year progressed.
  • Adama Sanogo, UConn, F, So., Bamako, Mali by way of The Patrick School (Hillside, N.J.) – A bit undersized for the frontcourt but extremely powerful, Sonogo is a force in the paint.
  • Jermaine Samuels, Villanova, F, Sr., Franklin, Mass. – Rangy wing in the Nova tradition has a knack for hitting big shots and was All Big East Honorable Mention last season.
  • Jared Rhoden, Seton Hall, G/F, Sr., Baldwin, N.Y. – Looks to be the next man up to play the role of Batman for the Pirates.
  • Justin Moore, Villanova, G, Jr., Fort Washington, MD. – Already a significant contributor at shooting guard for Nova, Moore was good in 20-21 but he can take another step forward this season.

Honorable Mention*

  • Chuck Harris, Butler, G, So., Washington, D.C. – Will be surrounded by experience, as the only non-senior starter for the Bulldogs. Went on a tear towards the end of last year, ended up averaging almost 13 ppg but may see some of his touches diminish with all of the returners that Butler has coming back from injury.
  • Al Durham, Providence, G, Sr., Lilburn, GA – Durham transfers in from Indiana averaging 11 pts, 3 rebs, and almost 3 asts per game. Expect him to continue or improve that production in the Big East.
  • Nate Johnson, Xavier, G, Sr., Miami, FL – A dead-eye shooter, Johnson shot better than 45% from three point range last season and averaged more than 11 ppg in his first season in the Big East.
  • Myles Cale, Seton Hall, G, Sr., Middletown, DE. – Cale looks poised to play Robin to Rhoden’s Batman averaging 11.6 ppg last year. He has good length for a SG at 6’6″, which helps on both ends of the court.

* The Big East makes an undetermined amount of Honorable Mention selections each year, usually 2-3 players and quite often they are seniors. I couldn’t choose from among these players, they’re all so deserving!

All Big East Freshman Team*

  • Arthur Kaluma, Creighton, F, Glendale, AZ
  • Aminu Mohammed, Georgetown, G, Washington DC
  • Jordan Hawkins, UConn, G, Hyattsville, MD
  • Jordan Longino, Villanova, G, Fort Washington, PA
  • Rati Andronikashvili, Creighton, G, Tbilisi, Georgia * Medical Redshirt in 20-21

All of these players are unknowns at the college level at this point; however all are four star recruits aside from Mohammed who was a five star and the number 23 player in the 2021 class (per 24/7 sports). UConn’s Samson Johnson (C, Elizabeth, NJ) and Rahsool Diggins (G, Philadelphia, PA) are also highly ranked but may not reach enough playing time to make the squad, especially with Hawkins also in the mix. Ryan Nembhard of Creighton (G, Ontario, Canada) was ranked just behind those two as a recruit, but it might be difficult for so many Creighton players to be recognized. Marquette’s Stevie Michell (G, Reading, PA) and DePaul’s Ahamad Bynum (G, Chicago, IL) may both crack their starting lineups. So, they could earn a spot on this squad if they show out.

Individual Awards

  • COY – Travis Steele, Xavier – COY should probably always go to to Nova’s Jay Wright but the voters would tire of giving him the award every year. Steele looks like he will have Xavier in the next best spot so he gets the nod here.
  • POY – Gillespie, Villanova & Champangie, St John’s – As mentioned, reigning co-POY and the conference’s best player.
  • DPOY – Alexander, St John’s – Co-DPOY last year as a freshman (with UConn’s Isiah Whaley), many expect Posh to make enough strides in year two to take sole possession of this award.
  • Freshman of the Year – Mohammed, Georgetown – Highest ranked recruit in the Big East and the Hoyas need the help.
  • Most Improved Player – Akok Akok, UConn, F, Jr. Manchester, N.H. – The big man missed most of last season with an achilles injury. When we last saw him in 19-20 he was an amazing shot blocker. Expect the rest of Akok’s game to have improved considerably as well.
  • Sixth Man Award – Dwon Odom, Xavier, G, So., Alpharetta, Ga. – Odom would be starting on most teams in the country but extra year seniors have crowded the Musketeer’s backcourt. Odom’s game will provide a spark off the bench and Steele should give him enough minutes to keep him happy.

The Definitive College Basketball Blue Blood Guide

To throw another wrench in the natural order of the universe in 2020-2021, the college basketball Blue Bloods have abdicated their typical thrones at the top of the rankings.

As of this moment, only Kansas (#15) and UCLA (#23) are ranked in the AP Poll. Kenpom is a little more kind to the Blue Bloods with Kansas (#17), Indiana (#24), and UCLA (#25) in his rankings. Even this is much lower than the Blue Bloods’ usual place in or around the top 10. At least they can say that it took a once-in-a-century global pandemic to make that happen.

Ohio State Collection at HOMAGE

All of this upheaval has prompted many to question their worldview. They started to ask things like: Are Indiana and UCLA still college basketball Blue Bloods? Are the likes of UVA, Villanova, & Michigan State Blue Bloods yet? Is it true that if you don’t use it, you lose it? Can my team become a Blue Blood? These are all, of course, vitally important questions. It is good for the soul of college basketball, nay the world, to bring some clarity to these issues. This paper will aim to do just that.

Who are the College Basketball Blue Bloods?

Since Duke ascended to college basketball Blue Blood status in the early 2000s, it has been widely accepted that there are 6 (and only 6) Blue Bloods in college basketball. They are in no particular order:

  • Duke
  • UNC
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • UCLA

If you’re even a casual fan of college roundball (let’s face it, if you’re reading this you’re probably closer to a hoops junkie) you’ll recognize that these are historically the top college basketball teams. Period.

College basketball Blue bloods are exactly that, the cream of the crop. They win a ton, dominate their conferences, get the best recruits, hire and retain iconic coaches, send lottery picks to the NBA year in and year out, have immense support and resources, have huge and passionate fan bases, and most importantly they win a lot (did I mention that already?).

The problem is there has not been (until now) a quantifiable metric for determining Blue Blood status. It has been done via consensus and feeling that a team is worthy of anointment. To make matters worse, some of these Blue Bloods have been Blue Bloods so long that the NCAA and their conferences are entirely different than when they achieved said status. So, how is anyone to determine when a program deserves to be knighted as a Blue Blood? Or when a team falls to mere plebian Cincinnati Bearcats status? Shudders.

What are the Requirements to be a College Basketball Blue Blood?

Many things that embody Blue Bloods like money, resources, recruits, NBA draft picks, fan bases, and even individual coaches are symptoms of a Blue Blooditis rather than the underlying cause. There is really only one cause of such: winning. But it’s not that simple! There are multiple types of winning that a Blue Blood must achieve: regular season, postseason, and conference domination. A Blue Blood should be Goliath to their foes’ David. A Blue Blood should be that dude that your girlfriend tells you not to worry about.

One caveat on the coach and player thing. Of course, you need to have great coaches and players to become a college hoops Blue Blood. But the way to define that is by how much winning they do. After all, many Duke fans and boosters wanted Coach K out of Durham in 1983. Had he been fired then, the world may not know how great a coach he really is and Duke would likely not have achieved Blue Blood status. I think about this nearly every night before bed!

Thus, I declare the 3-6-6-3 rule. Every traditional Blue Blood has achieved the 3-6-6-3 feat at the time of being exhaulted (or the equivalent in their timeframe). Explained below:

All-Time Requirements:
  • 3 NCAA Championships All-Time – Kansas holds 3 titles.
  • 6 NCAA Final Fours All-Time – Indiana had 6 Final Fours when they were exalted as Blue Bloods in 1987.
20 year Recency Requirements:
  • A 20 year Average of a 6 seed or better in the NCAA Tournament – All teams easily achieved this in their heyday. We’ll use this to judge regular-season success as it encompasses both quantity and quality of wins as officially sanctioned by the NCAA Selection Committee.
  • Triple Share of Conference Tourney or Regular Season Championships Every 20 Years – Each conference now offers a regular-season championship and conference tourney. So, over 20 years there are 40 chances for a win. A Blue Blood should win at least triple their share of that 40 (3/X relative to the number of teams in conference). For example, the ACC has 15 teams. A current-day Duke would need to win 3/15 of the 40 opportunities (i.e. 8 conference titles in 20 years) to qualify. Despite the name, the Big 12 has 10 teams. So a modern Kansas would need to win 3/10 of the 40 (i.e. 12 conference titles in 20 years) to qualify.

Lets take a look at how our recency metrics holds up to our traditional college basketball Blue Bloods over the past 20 years. Teams were given a 12 seed by default in years that they didn’t make the tourney as the lowest-ranked at-large teams are typically 11 seeds.

SchoolRaw SeedAvg SeedConf Titles
Duke1.9216
Kansas2.35225
UNC4.05413
Kentucky4.7518
UCLA7.7887
Indiana8.5593
Blue Bloods 2000-2019

How Does a Team Lose College Basketball Blue Blood Status?

Like with the aristocracy it should be easier to stay a college basketball Blue Blood than it was to attain the status in the first place. So, a team doesn’t have to win at the same rate nor bring home the same amount of hardware. However, they do have to maintain appearances. After all, traditionally the main way for royalty to lose their Blue Blood status was by marrying down with mere commoners. Here the hoops Blue Bloods have to avoid marrying down with mediocrity.

So, here is the proclamation:

To retain Blue Blood status, a team must achieve 2 of the following 3 in any given 20 year span:

  • Average a 6 seed or better in the NCAA tournament.
  • Win a triple share of the regular season/conference tourney titles (3/X).
  • Reach a Final Four.
  • These are interchangeable, so an extra Final Four within the 20 year span can take the place of conference titles or the NCAA 6 seed average and vice versa.

So, how do our waning Bloods stack up?

UCLA Resume
  • 11 NCAA Titles (Last – 1995)
  • 18 Final Fours (Last 3 – 2006, 2007, 2008)
  • 37 Pac12 Regular Season Titles (Relevant – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013)
  • 4 Pac12 Tourney Championships (Relevant -2006, 2008, 2014)
  • Average 20 year NCAA tourney seed = 8

Not terrible, but the Bruins haven’t had a ton of success since the mid-2000s. Their last Final Four was 2008 so their Blue Blood clock goes until 2028 (but we’ll extend to 2029 due to Covid). They could get their average NCAA tournament seed down to 6 if they start soon. Otherwise, UCLA needs 6 more PAC12 regular season/tournament titles and a Final Four by 2029 or 2 total Final Fours. Should be doable for a Blood.

Indiana Resume
  • 5 NCAA Titles (Last – 1987)
  • 8 Final Fours (Last – 2002)
  • 22 B1G Regular Season Championships (Relevant 3 – 2002, 2013, 2016)
  • 0 B1G conference tournament wins
  • 20 Year NCAA Tourney Seed Avg = 9

Oof, things are not looking good for the Hoosiers. The most surprising thing to me is that Indiana has never won the B1G basketball tournament (held since 1998). They’ve only made the B1G title game once (2001). This is despite the fact that the tournament is held in Indianapolis just about every other year (alternating with Chicago).

But enough trashing IU. What do they need to stay a Blood? Their recent NCAA tourney seeding and conference championships have not been impressive so those are both out. Their last Final Four was 2002, so that sets the Blue Blood expiration clock at 2022. (Again, we’ll extend until 2023 per Covid). So, the Hoosiers need to make both of the next two Final Fours to stay a Blue Blood. I will also accept winning the NCAA championship in lieu of one of the Final Fours. A tall order but that is the price to pay in this game of blood.

The College Basketball New Bloods

So, who is next in line to be a college hoops Blue Blood and what do they need to do to get there?

WCC

Conference Title Requirement 6/10 x 40 = 24

Gonzaga’s Resume
  • 0 NCAA Titles
  • 1 Final Four (2017)
  • Ungodly Amount of WCC championships
  • 20 Year Average NCAA Seed = 6

It’s really too early for this conversation for the Zags. They need more hardware and a lot of it. They’re having no problem in the WCC but need to compete on the national stage. Check back in ~ 10 years.

Also, for the record, we should double the 3/X conference title requirement to 6/X for anyone in a Mid-Major conference. So the Zags will need to win 6/10 WCC titles, which they currently have no problem doing.

B1G

Conference Title Requirement 3/14 x 40 = 9

Michigan State’s Resume
  • 2 NCAA Titles (1979, 2000)
  • 10 Final Fours (Since 2000 – 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2019)
  • 5 B16 Tourney Championships Since 2000 (2000, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019)
  • 8 B1G Regular Season Titles Since 2000 (2000, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2018, 2019, 2020)
  • 20 year average NCAA Tourney Seed = 5

The path here is simple – win another NCAA Championship. This would not only punch MSU’s Blue Blood ticket but also cement Izzo’s status as one of the greatest coaches of all time. As an aside, the B1G must just hate the fact that they are the only P5 conference without a basketball Blue Blood. Or maybe I am overthinking it…

Wisconsin’s Resume
  • 1 NCAA Title (1941)
  • 4 Final Fours (1941, 2000, 2014, 2015)
  • 3 B1G Tourney Titles Since 2000 (2004, 2008, 2015)
  • 5 B1G Regular Season Titles Since 2000 (2002, 2003, 2008, 2015, 2020)
  • 20 year Average NCAA Tourney Seed = 6

The Badgers are sneaky here with that 1941 championship that I think everyone but them forgot about. They still need 2 more Final Fours and 2 more NCAA championships along with just a bit of a bump in B1G contention to achieve Blue Blood nirvana.

Michigan’s Resume
  • 1 NCAA Title (1989)
  • 8 Final Fours (1964, 1965, 1976, 1989, 1992, 1993, 2013, 2018)
  • 2 B1G Tourney Titles Since 2000 (2017, 2018)
  • 2 B1G Regular Season Conference Championships Since 2000 (2012, 2014)
  • 20 Year Average NCAA Seed = 9

Michigan’s got some history here but had a pretty bad schnide there from 99-09. They seem to have gotten themselves on the right track but they have some work to do on every front except Final Fours.

Ohio State’s Resume
  • 1 NCAA Title (1960)
  • 11 Final Fours (1939, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1968, 1999, 2007, 2012)
  • 5 B1G Tourney Championships Since 2000 (2002, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013)
  • 7 B1G Regular Season Titles Since 2000 (2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012)
  • 20 Year NCAA Tourney Seed Average = 8

Similar to Michigan, Ohio State has some work to do. They’ve also got the Final Fours but haven’t had great success since the late 00s to early 10s. They might be sitting in New Blood status for a while until they can get things on track.

Big East

Conference Title Requirement 3/11 x 40 = 11

UConn’s Resume
  • 4 NCAA Titles (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014)
  • 5 Final Fours (1999, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2014)
  • 4 Big East/AAC Conference Tournament Titles Since 2000 (2002, 2004, 2011, 2016)
  • 4 Big East Regular Season Championships Since 2000 (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006)
  • 20 year average NCAA Tourney Seed = 7

UConn is an interesting case as they have won a lot of NCAA titles but not dominated the regular season as much as Blue Bloods tend to do. After winning the NCAA title in 2011 they have only made the NCAA tournament 3 times, twice as a 9 seed and once as a 7 (though they did win another NCAA title as that 7 seed). They also only won 1 conference tournament and 0 regular seasons in that span, in what was a much weaker AAC conference (compared to the old Big East). If the Huskies had finished the 2010s with just decent performance they’d probably be considered Blue Bloods already. Now to get to the mountain top, they need a couple of years of just outright winning (earning high NCAA tournament seeds), a few more Big East championships, and one more Final Four. They could also just pop off say another NCAA championship and I don’t think anyone would contest their Blue Blood status.

Villanova’s Resume
  • 3 NCAA Titles (1985, 2016, 2018)
  • 6 Final Fours (1939, 1971, 1985, 2009, 2016, 2018)
  • 4 Big East Tourney Titles Since 2000 (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • 7 Big East Regular Season Titles Since 2000 (2006, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020)
  • 20 Year average NCAA seed = 7

Nova is in the driver’s seat. They have the hardware, they are maintaining excellent standards. All they have to do is not miss the layup (like UConn did) or succumb to NCAA sanctions (like Louisville, lol). They just need a handful of more years of high NCAA seeds and they’re in.

ACC

Conference Title Requirement 3/15 x 40 = 8

Cuse’s Resume
  • 1 NCAA Title (2003)
  • 6 Final Fours (1975, 1987, 1996, 2003, 2013, 2016)
  • 2 Big East Tourney Championships Since 2000 (2005, 2006)
  • 4 Big East Regular Season Championships Since 2000 (2000, 2003, 2010, 2012)
  • 20 year average NCAA seed = 7

Cuse has the Final Fours, it needs two more championships. The Orange also need to improve their overall seeding a bit and win a few ACC championships. By the 3/15 formula the goal would be 3 more conference titles by 2024 (per covid) or 4 by 2026. Boeheim will go down as an all-time great either way, but (like Izzo) if he wants to be at the tippy top echelon he’ll need to bring Cuse to Blue Blood status.

Louisville’s Resume
  • 3 NCAA Tournament Championships (1980, 1986, 2013)
  • 10 Final Fours (1959, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 2005, 2012, 2013)
  • 4 Conference Tournament Championships since 2005 (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • 3 Regular Seasons since 2005 (2009, 2013, 2014)
  • 20 Year Average Seed = 7

Louisville was in Conference USA prior to 2005-2006, which they won the conference tournament twice between 2000-2005 (2003, 2005) and the regular season once (2005). The double requirement for mid-major conferences should be in effect. Their 2014 season was also in the AAC (a quasi-major) so their regular season and tourney conference title doesn’t hold as much weight. (And this is to say nothing of the games/titles that have been vacated, lol). The Cardinals were close to Blue Blood status in the mid-2000s but ultimately didn’t quite make it. The good news is they have the hardware and fairly recent success. Chris Mack just needs to run off a handful of seasons of ACC contention resulting in top NCAA seeding and they’ll be in.

Virginia’s Resume
  • 1 NCAA Title (2019)
  • 3 Final Fours (1981, 1984, 2019)
  • 2 ACC Tournament Championships Since 2000 (2014, 2018)
  • 5 ACC Regular Season Crown’s Since 2000 (2007, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)
  • 20 Year Average NCAA Seed = 8

UVA was the king of the regular season for the late 2010s after not doing much in the 2000s. Fortunately for them, they got over both humps and are now (still) the reigning national champions. They have a lot of work to do in the postseason but there is no telling where Tony Bennett and co go from here. If the Cavaliers get 2 more NCAA titles and 3 more Final Fours while maintaining the same regular-season edge in the ACC they’ll be Blue Bloods for sure. I wouldn’t be shocked if that is in just 5 or 6 years now that the ice has been broken and the traditional ACC Blue Bloods (Duke & UNC) are down. Or they could have just gotten lucky in 2019.

Pac 12

Conference Title Requirement 3/12 x 40 = 10

Arizona’s Resume
  • 1 NCAA Championship (1997)
  • 4 Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997, 2001)
  • 4 PAC12 Tourney Chips since 2000 (2002, 2015, 2017, 2018)
  • 8 Pac12 Regular Season Titles Since 2000 (2000, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018)
  • Average Seed = 6

The path is simple for Arizona as well – win two more NCAA titles. Winning those titles will also bring 2 more Final Fours. Aside from that they just need to maintain their in-conference level of play.

SEC

Conference Title Requirement 3/14 x 40 = 9

Florida’s Resume
  • 2 NCAA Titles (2006, 2007)
  • 5 Final Fours (1994, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2014)
  • 4 SEC Tournament Championships Since 2000 (2005, 2006, 2007, 2014)
  • 6 SEC Regular Season Titles Since 2000 (2000, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014)
  • 20 Year NCAA Tourney Average = 6

The Gators are right on the precipice as well. They only need one NCAA championship (which would come with a Final Four) to get over the hump. They have been fading down the stretch, however, with 6 and 10 seeds in the tourney in 2018 and 2019 and missing it altogether in 2015 and 2016 (a nice 4 seed in 2017 though). The haters will say it is a bit soon for UF but the back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007 (along with the bookend titles in football in 2006 and 2008) constitute perhaps the most impressive continuous run I’ve seen by one school.


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2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big Ten

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.

In 2019, the Big Ten was the top conference in college basketball and while it did lose some top tier talent, it still remains the home of potentially ten NCAA Tournament teams.

Let’s take a closer look at the Big Ten conference for the 2020-21 basketball season.

Conference Preview
Valedictorian: Wisconsin, Iowa
Top of the Class: Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Rutgers
Needs Tutoring: Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State
Failing: Nebraska, Northwestern

Players to Watch
* Marcus Carr, Minnesota (6-2 JR Guard)
* Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois (6-5 JR Guard)
* Seth Towns, Ohio State (6-8 SR Forward)
* Aaron Henry, Michigan State (6-6 JR Forward)
* Luke Garza, Iowa (6-11 SR Center)

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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.

2020-21 College Basketball Preview: ACC

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.

This season will be like any other, but many of the names at the top will stay the same as we dive in and preview the 2020-21 college hoops season starting with the ACC.

Conference Preview
Valedictorians: Virginia, Duke
Top of the Class: North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Syracuse, Georgia Tech
Needs Tutoring: Miami, NC State, Clemson, Virginia Tech
Failing: Boston College, Notre Dame, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest

Players to Watch
* Sam Hauser, Virginia
(6-8 SR Forward): Transfer who could be the x-factor for Virginia to contend for a title.
* Garrison Brooks, North Carolina (6-9 SR Forward): Will lead Carolina back to a tradition of contending for the ACC crown.
* Jalen Johnson, Duke (6-8 FR Forward): Star freshman that will be the next in line to win at Duke then head to the NBA.
* Scottie Barnes, Florida State (6-9 FR Forward): Florida State lost a bunch of talent to the Draft, but Barnes will still lead the Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament.
* Chris Lykes, Miami (5-7 SR Guard): The most underrated guard in the country, Lykes is dynamic and impressive. Lykes’ will likely be a contender for ACC Player of the Year if Miami can stay competitive.

Final Take
The ACC lost more talent than anyone to the NBA and graduation, but as usual, has reloaded led by the traditional powerhouses. Virginia and Duke both look like title contenders this season, but it’ll be Virginia that stands out as the favorite led by a trio of stars with Kihei Clark, Jay Hugg, and Sam Hauser.

Duke will be led by freshman again this season, so they’ll need to mesh quickly to contend in 2020. North Carolina should be much improved this season as Garrison Brooks returns plus another star-studded recruiting class makes their way to Chapel Hill.

Florida State will also be contender and keep an eye on Georgia Tech this season as Josh Pastner has one of the best backcourts in the league this season. Louisville, Syracuse, and maybe even Miami will also have a chance to advance to some March Madness come 2021.

The bottom half of the ACC will still have question marks entering the new season. NC State returns a few players, but lost do-everything star Markell Johnson and will struggled to even get back to .500 play this season in the ACC.

Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Notre Dame weren’t able to land any key recruits to change their basketball culture this season, but of the four, Aamir Sims may be able to guide Clemson to pulling a few upsets this season.

Pittsburgh enters year two under Jeff Capel, but is still a couple years away from truly contending in the ACC as they are very young and inexperienced which will cause them to struggle in league play.

Wake Forest has a new coach in former ETSU head man Steve Forbes, but it’ll be a while before their back in the upper-half of the standings.

Overall, many new faces, but it’ll be the normal suspects at the top of the ACC with three teams a chance to bring home another National Championship to the ACC. Each team enters the season with some questions, but Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina all have the pieces to make a deep run come March and April.