Seton Hall, Xavier give Villanova tough Big East competition
The Wildcats' 63-9 record in the reconfigured Big East makes them the overwhelming favorite.
Villanova has gone 63-9 in the reconfigured Big East, 8-2 in the postseason tournament. So chances are everyone else is playing for second place.
Seton Hall is the only team that has three wins over the Wildcats in the last four seasons. Creighton and Butler each have two.
Seton Hall and Xavier got one first-place vote apiece in the preseason coaches poll. Hall had two players on an all-senior first team, Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado. With two other starters back it's the highest the Pirates have been positioned since 2000-01.
Last season the conference sent seven teams to the NCAA tourney. This year it'll probably be more like five.
Georgetown has a new coach in former Hoya great Patrick Ewing. Ditto Butler, which reached the Sweet 16, in former Bulldog LaVall Jordan. DePaul has a lot back from a 9-23 team. But it's still DePaul. Marquette made the NCAAs for the first time since 2013, but might take a slight step back.
St. John's improved last season and could improve more in its third year with Chris Mullin. Xavier made it to the Midwest Regional final as an 11 seed and remains dangerous. Providence has made the 68-team field four straight times and should make it five. Creighton will have Syracuse transfer Kaleb Joseph to go with Marcus Foster, who averaged 18 points after transferring from Kansas State.
Projection: Villanova, Seton Hall, Xavier, Providence, Creighton, St. John's, Marquette, Butler, Georgetown and DePaul.