As the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season approaches, an ESPN.com panel of experts predicts the final order of the nation’s most important conferences. Having already looked at the big mid-caps, American and Pac12, the focus now shifts to the Big East.
During the sabbatical, surprising news sent shock waves throughout the entire college basketball scene when Jay Wright announced that he would retire and be succeeded by Kyle Neptune, a former Vilanova assistant who spent one year as Fordham’s head coach. Villanova’s lineage under Wright changed the national perception of the Big East, who is one of the leaders in college basketball each season.
But what does Wright’s absence mean? Can Vilanova stay on top without him? Or will a team like Creighton become the new leader of the pack? The Bluejays are the favorites to win the Big East for the first time since joining the league.
Elsewhere, two familiar faces are back on the shows where they first established their credentials as head coach: Thad Mata is back at Butler, and Sean Miller takes over as Xavier. Meanwhile, Shaheen Holloway is back at Seton Hall, where he starred, after leading St. Peter’s in the historic Eighth Elite race.
Find more pre-season analysis here.
Big East 2022-23 Superlatives
player of the year
Medcalf: Adama SanogoOkon
Borzello: Adama Sanogo, Okun
Gasaway: Adama Sanogo, Okun
Lonardi: Adama Sanogo, Okun
This year’s newcomer
Medcalf: Cam WhitmoreVillanova
Borzello: Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Gasaway: Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Lonardi: Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Big East 2022-23 Round Table
Villanova has won at least one game in every NCAA tournament since 2014—and the title twice in that stretch. Can Kyle Neptune keep Jay Wright’s streak?
Vilanova sticks, Cam Whitmore makes a nice move to get a bucket at the McDonald’s All-American game.
Gasaway: While the potential for a Round of 64 upset is of course present, yes, Neptune has one of the 32 best teams in the country this season, with some extra space. Eric DixonAnd the Brandon Slater And the Caleb Daniels Come back and join them with the potential 2023 lottery pick and (more importantly!) the fictional draft pick of Jeff Borzillo as Cam Whitmore. However, the question with Wildcats is health. Whitmore may miss the start of the season due to thumb surgery and Justin Moore He is still rehabilitating a torn Achilles.
Borzello: I agree. Whitmore’s long-term health is no less of a concern than Moore, who suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the last minute of his eighth Elite win over Houston last season. There is hope that he can make a comeback in the latter part of the season, but will he return to last year’s All-Big East level right away? Still, Neptune has veterans, and I’ve always been a fan of the starting point guards Mark Armstrong.
Medcalf: Wright said he’s been thinking about retirement for a few years, which means he’s been thinking about his next steps for some time, too. I don’t think he put Neptune in that place unless he thought he could maintain a similar level of success. Easier said than done, but Moore should be healthy in time for the NCAA Championship. And the Wildcats could look like a squad in the second weekend before he’s even healthy. This isn’t Lincoln Riley going to USC and taking Oklahoma’s top talent with him. Wright put Neptune in a good position to stand out and keep the streak in his first year.
Lonardi: I come across Villanova fans constantly (an occupational hazard, if you will). The obvious question I would ask is, “Is Kyle as good as Jay?” It seems to me that the only smart answer is that it is highly unlikely. This is not a blow to Neptune. It is a matter of possibility. Jay Wright was the post-reorganization John Wooden. In one five-year stint, Villanova was the number one seed three times, the number two seed twice, and of course winning two national championships. For good measure, the Wildcats have never lost two games in a row during that time. In his “off” years, Wright collected one fourth seed and two more Final Four appearances. It’s an incredibly authentic autobiography of a modern-day non-FBS school.
Villanova is sure to go on to win NCAA Championship games, including this season. But it’s inhuman to expect a decade of any program to match what Wright leaves behind on the main line.
It looks like Creighton has the talent for another NCAA tournament taking place in 2023, and he’s back Ryan NimbardAnd the Ryan Calcbrinner And the Trey Alexanderand add a South Dakota conversion Baylor Sherman. What are your expectations from Bluejays?
With Baylor Scheierman moving to Creighton, he’s relive some of his best plays from last season.
Medcalf: In his 20 years as a Division I head coach, McDermott earned two conference championships (one in the Missouri Valley Conference, one in the Big East) and another appearance in his second weekend at the NCAA (2021). When a team adds a player like Sherman, the expectations make sense. Creighton has what you need to win the Big East – which you should – and round up the Final Four. If McDermott fails to lead this team to the limit, a streak of poor post-season achievement will continue for the head coach for a long time.
Gasaway: Creighton has the league’s worst turnover (21%) in a Big East game, and by the way, this offense can’t make 3 seconds (31%). But that same team somehow went toe-to-toe with Kansas for 40 minutes in the Round of 32, despite losing key players. This is a powerful paint advocacy and negation 3-point look kit. Speaking of those looks, Shellerman last season exhausted 46% with the Jackrabbits.
Lonardi: Despite all of Creighton’s success under Greg McDermott, the post-season wasn’t kind during the senior school years in the East. But the Bluejays finally broke their “first-weekend jinx” in 2021, and are now 4-5 in the NCAA Championship and 0-4 in the Big East Championship title match. However, this is Creighton’s best team since Doug McDermott was National Player of the Year in the school’s first season in the Big East. Anything less than a return to Sweet 16 – and possibly beyond – would be, and should, be considered a disappointment.
Borzello: The big regular season title in the East. The Bluejays are in the top 10 pre-season and, along with Villanova’s training changeover and injuries, should be the Big East’s pre-season favorite. Realizing these expectations will require a huge leap from last season, when they finished 50th in the country by an average efficiency margin at Kienbaum, and in stark contrast to previous teams, he really struggled offensively but played at a high level on the defensive end. But one of the smallest teams in the country is now a year older than him, and Sherman adds a notable shooting and passerby role. Do not forget Arthur Caluma, also; A sophomore is a prospective NBA draft pick.
Providence enters 2022-23 without the five starters who beat the Freers last season. What does Ed Cooley have to do in the short and long term in order to replicate?
Jared Bynum scored 27 points, including a stiletto 3-pointer in the third overtime as Providence beats Xavier.
Borzello: Repetition seems like a difficult task, but the brothers were also selected as seventh in the Big East prior to last season. Cooley has been heavily reloaded via the transfer portal, adding Noah Locke (Louisville), Devin Carter (South Carolina), Moore, Brice Hopkins (Kentucky) and Corey Floyd Jr. (Okun). At least three can start from the first day, join Jared Bynum Who is preparing for the championship? In the short term, Providence will inevitably take a step back, but in the long run, Cooley suffers from this program.
Medcalf: Last season, Providence exceeded expectations with this great race in the East. He also finished an impressive streak for Cooley: It was the first time since 2014 that a Providence team had failed to finish in the top five in defensive proficiency in league play. This is important here, as it shows that Cooley has been able to lead one of the best defensive teams in the Big East despite the changes in personnel during those years. adding Clifton Mor (2.8 BPG last season at La Salle) should help realize their title aspirations once again. Cooley’s reputation for molding veteran groups into grimly competitive units will help him identify and attract these players into the transfer portal and help Providence thrive in the future.
Gasaway: Last year’s Providence was probably the oldest team we’ve ever seen – in a good way. In terms of weighted average age in minutes, the brothers scored a remarkably seasoned 23.3 years. On the contrary, this year they have a slightly younger look even with 23-year-olds like Bynum, Locke, and Moore. A repeat of the 2022 magic may not be imminent, but Cooley has shown – and will long remember – how to build the best veteran rosters.
Lonardi: It seems like we start each season with Providence in the bubble, and here we are again. All summer and autumn, the brothers roamed between our “last four” and “first four” groups. But I learned not to bet on Ed Cooley. Providence doesn’t win the regular-season Big East race, but it could completely delay the NCAA course show with a retooled roster of veteran transfers. If you’re a fan of Providence, I’d block the top four dates in Dayton.
Who or what are we not talking about enough in the Big East?
Gasaway: It’s a rare day when we don’t talk enough about Sean Miller, but well, we don’t talk enough about Sean Miller. For starters, we can’t call this his “first” season on Xavier. (It’s not Matthew’s first season either. Curious!) Whatever the name of this season, Miller inherits Jack NongAnd the Zach Fremantle And the Colby Jones. Yes, this team missed out on the NCAA Championship and yes, the former coach is now at Miami OH. However, as of early February, Xavier was aged 16-5 and was expected to be the No. 5 seed. We could hear from Miller and the riders in 2023.
Borzello: I suppose Gasaway read my biggest question in 2022-23 from last week, linking Xavier as a potential option to be Auburn or Arizona for this season. Either way, I’m on board with the riders. Miller proved to be one of the best coaches in the country during his time in Arizona and Xavier before that. He inherits a talented group that includes one of the country’s top big-man duos at Nong and Fremantle, and a top candidate at Jones – plus an interesting trio of newcomers in the backyard. Miller produced a series of high-level defenses at his earlier stations; If he can get this group to guard like those teams, Xavier could come close to the top of the league.
Medcalf: Yes, I think it’s Sean Miller too. I’m curious about how the narrative around him has changed as the NCAA deals with his offense issues. The IARP operation appears to have cleared Benny Hardaway. If the same operation gave Miller a slap in the wrist for alleged misconduct in Arizona, the story would be gone — especially in a world where athletes now sign deals worth millions of dollars for nothing. With that cloud gone, it would be easy to see Miller put together a strong squad with potential for the second weekend, as he prepares to return to the highs he enjoyed during his first spell in Cincinnati. All the veterans of the NIT-winning team would have left when Miller arrived. Stay. This means something.
Lonardi: Put me in Camp Ocon by Danny Hurley. Since returning to the Big East, I’ve always thought that the Husky would be the team that would eventually knock out Villanova. It could be said that they were better prepared in the long run than any other school in the Big East. UConn is 24-12 in the first two seasons in the Big East, with a pair of single-digit NCAA seeds. If not this year, the breakthrough is coming soon, both in the conference race and in March. As long as Hurley stays out of his own way, he’s the coach who can bring a fifth (men’s) national championship to Storrs.