Big East Men’s Basketball Update

There’s a new sheriff in town: Xavier replaces Villanova as the team to beat in the east


Paul Brady, Section editor

This college basketball regular season has proven to take twists and turns every step of the way. There seems to already be some March Madness magic in January as some sleeper teams have snuck their way into the AP Top 25. Kansas State,  Miami, TCU, Florida Atlantic University, and Charleston are certainly not programs with a lot of experience in this esteemed position. For instance, the last time Charleston was ranked was in Week 3 of the 2002 season. For Kansas State and Miami, it was five years ago. On the flip side, some dynasties in the sport, such as Gonzaga, Duke, Baylor, UNC, Florida State, Texas Tech, Villanova, and Kentucky, have failed to meet expectations. Nobody can tell what’s causing this massive shift in the college basketball landscape, but in this article, I will briefly summarize where things stand in my personal favorite conference, the Big East.


Ranked teams: Xavier (8), UCONN (15),  Marquette (20), Providence (22)

Others to watch: St. John’s, Creighton, Seton Hall

Growing up in Jersey, it’s hard to not love Big East basketball. I’ve been to the Big East Tournament twice, and there is nothing in sports quite like the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden. I’m used to seeing Villanova atop the division, but it looks like they are already out of contention this year. With 10 losses as of January 16th, the only way Villanova will play in March Madness is if they win the Big East tournament. Villanova’s downfall has paved the way for UCONN and Xavier to make names for themselves in college basketball. UCONN was on a roll early in the season, destroying the out-of-conference competition with notable victories over Iowa State and Alabama. Interestingly enough, UCONN has only lost to teams within the Big East: St. John’s, Marquette, Providence, and Xavier. With two straight losses, the Huskies have a must-win game against Seton Hall on Wednesday. 

Xavier, led by head coach Sean Miller, has had quite the opposite story this regular season. They are 7-0 in conference matchups and 8-3 in out-of-conference matchups. The Musketeers undoubtedly have an impressive tournament resumé, and if they’re able to finish the regular season strong, they will have an outside chance of earning a one seed in March. Souley Boum is a name to keep in mind. The fourth-year UTEP transfer leads Xavier in points per game, and his shooting ability was instrumental in Sunday’s 80-76 win over Marquette. Iowa transfer Jack Nunge and New Jersey native Zach Freemantle are also key players for Miller. One more team in the Big East that deserves the spotlight is Providence. Welcome to the Bryce Hopkins show. The 6’7’’ Kentucky transfer is now the go-to guy for Ed Cooley, one of the most entertaining coaches in the game. I would finish by saying do not sleep on Creighton or Seton Hall. They have plenty of time to turn their seasons around and take the Big East by storm.