EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was updated on June 18 to reflect the news of the torn ACL suffered by Georgetown’s Greg Whittington.***
This isn’t your father’s Big East Conference.
The Big East Conference of 2013-14 won’t have traditional Final Four contenders Syracuse and Louisville. The Jimmy and Ricky Show has moved on to a Denny’s somewhere near Greensboro (Rick Pitino will have to wait until Louisville joins the ACC in 2014 for that).
Six other schools — Cincinnati, UConn, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh Rutgers and USF — are also gone.
Enter Butler, Creighton and Xavier to the new 10-team Big East that managed to keep the conference name and the postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden when it broke off with the football schools.
Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about the new league, including a Preseason Top 10, Preseason All-Big East Team and a list of Recruits to Watch.
BIG EAST PRESEASON TOP 10
1. MARQUETTE (26-9, 14-4 Big East)
Outside of Louisville and Syracuse, no Big East team has had more postseason success in recent years than Buzz Williams and Marquette, who finally broke through to the Elite Eight last year, where they lost to Syracuse, 55-39. The Golden Eagles lost Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan and Trent Lockett, but return some experienced and tough pieces in Davante Gardner (11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Jamil Wilson (9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Todd Mayo (5.3 ppg). Chris Otule (5.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) received a waiver for a sixth year of eligibility. Watch out for 6-7 sophomore forward Steve Taylor Jr., who is coming off right knee surgery but could emerge as a big-time player. Marquette’s five-man recruiting class is ranked No. 11 overall by ESPN.com, and first in the Big East.
2. ST. JOHN’S (17-16, 8-10 Big East)
Coach Steve Lavin has arguably the most talented roster of his four-year tenure and the pressure will be on him and the Johnnies to live up to the hype and help carry the flag for the new Big East without Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Junior guard D’Angelo Harrison, the team’s leading scorer at 17.8 ppg, is expected to work his way back onto the team after being suspended March 1, and all eyes will be on his maturity level. JaKarr Sampson, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, also returns with his 14.9 ppg and 6.6 rpg as he attempts to build his NBA profile. Chris Obekpa brings his 4.0 blocks per game back for his sophomore season, and he will be joined up front by Orlando Sanchez, a 6-9 senior forward from the Dominican who was given a waiver to play this season. The Johnnies bring in talented Philly combo guard Rysheed Jordan, who will have to mesh with Harrison in the backcourt for this team to maximize its potential.
3. GEORGETOWN (25-7, 14-4 Big East)
The loss of 6-8 forward Greg Whittington (12.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) to an ACL injury could be a huge blow for the Hoyas, who already lost Otto Porter Jr. to the NBA Draft Lottery. Still, Georgetown returns a solid core, including senior point guard Markel Starks (12.8 ppg, 3.0 apg), sophomore off guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (8.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg), senior forward Nate Lubick (7.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), junior center Mikael Hopkins (5.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and junior guard Jabril Trawick (5.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg). Sophomore forward Stephen Domingo and freshman Reggie Cameron will likely play larger roles in Whittington’s absence. John Thompson III also expects UCLA transfer Josh Smith (5.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg) to suit up, although it is unclear when he will debut.
4. XAVIER (17-14, 9-7 Atlantic 10)
Like Butler, Chris Mack and Xavier are making the jump to the Big East from the Atlantic 10 Conference. Sophomore guard Semaj Christon, the team’s leading scorer at 15.2 ppg with 4.6 apg, returns, as does junior guard Dee Davis (8.2 ppg, 3.4 apg) and senior forward Isaiah Philmore (7.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg). The Musketeers also add some nice pieces in 6-10 Matt Stainbrook, who averaged 11.4 ppg and 6.8 rpg at Western Michigan in 2011-12, and 6-8 Aleksandar “Aleks” Vezenkov, a Bulgarian who never signed a pro contract with his Greek pro team. New Jersey sharpshooter Myles Davis, a 6-1 guard, a 6-9 forward Jaylen Reynolds are both eligible after the NCAA declared both ineligible last season.
5. VILLANOVA (20-14, 10-8 Big East)
Sophomore point guard Ryan Arcidiacono (11.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) has now been through the Big East blender once around and should also gain some valuable experience this summer playing with the U.S. U19 team. Junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston of Brooklyn (13.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has all the tools to become an All-Big East first-team player and this could be his breakout year. The Wildcats also return junior guard Darrun Hilliard (11.4 ppg) and senior guard James Bell (8.6 ppg). Jay Wright’s team adds some nice pieces in Rice transfer Dylan Ennis, who averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.3 rpg two years ago, and incoming 6-5 power forward Kris Jenkins and 6-4 small forward Josh Hart, both ranked in the ESPN 100.
6. CREIGHTON (28-8, 13-5 Missouri Valley)
It will be interesting to see how a team from the Missouri Valley adapts to playing in the rough-and-tumble Big East, but the Bluejays may have shown their colors when they eliminated a tough Cincinnati team from the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Duke in the second. Doug McDermott had 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Cincinnati game, and when he opted to remain on campus instead of entering the NBA Draft, he automatically became the Big East Preseason Player of the Year. Aside from McDermott (23.2 pgg, 7.7 rpg), the Bluejays return senior forward Ethan Wragge (7.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg), junior point guard Austin Chatman (7.4 ppg, 4.2 apg and senior guard Jahenns Manigat (5.9 ppg, 2.3 apg). Senior guard Grant Gibbs (8.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) is petitioning the NCAA for an extra year, and 6-2 JUCO guard Devin Brooks of New York is expected to make an impact after averaging 15.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.6 apg, 1.8 spg at Iowa Western. Creighton has also stepped up its recruiting efforts in the Northeast with the hiring of former UConn assistant Pat Sellers, and it will be interesting to see if they can land players from Big East territory.
7. BUTLER (27-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10)
8. PROVIDENCE (19-15, 9-9 Big East)
The Friars made a late run last season, going 9-4 in their final 13 games and reaching the NIT quarterfinals where they lost to eventual champ Baylor. Point guard Vincent Council is gone to the NBA Draft, as is scoring sensation Ricky Ledo, who never suited up last season due to eligibility issues. But the Friars return senior guard Bryce Cotton (19.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg), an All-Big East first-team selection a year ago; senior forward Kadeem Batts (14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg), an honorable mention honoree; and junior forward LaDontae Henton (13.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg). Kris Dunn and Josh Fortune are now sophomores and have a year of experience under their belts. The Friars also add transfers Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers to incoming players Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock. Austin recently went for 91 points in an all-star game.
9. SETON HALL (15-18, 3-15 Big East)
10. DEPAUL (11-21, 2-16 Big East)
It’s DePaul, really, what is there to say? Five players transferred in the off-season. Senior guard Brandon Young (16.7 ppg) and senior forward Cleveland Melvin (16.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) return as the leading scorers and junior G/F Jamee Crockett (8.7 ppg) comes back after battling injuries. Tommy Hamilton, a 6-9 freshman center, has battled injuries and weight problems but is a talent when motivated. Top-100 recruit Billy Garrett Jr. leads the incoming recruits, and will see immediate playing time, along with Oak Hill’s R.J. Curington.
Per ESPNU Top 100:
17. PG Rysheed Jordan, St. John’s
27. SG JaJuan Johnson, Marquette
39. SF Deonte Burton, Marquette
53. PG Duane Wilson, Marquette
56. SF Brandon Austin, Providence
63. SF Reggie Cameron, Georgetown
73. PF Kris Jenkins, Villanova
89. PG Brandon Randolph, Xavier
91. PG Jaren Sina, Seton Hall
92. SF Josh Hart, Villanova
94. PG Billy Garrett, Jr. DePaul
SNY ALL-BIG EAST PRESEASON TEAM
Preseason Player of the Year
Doug McDermott, Sr. F, Creighton
Preseason All-Big East First Team
D’Angelo Harrison, Jr. G, St. John’s
Bryce Cotton, Sr. G., Providence
Semaj Christon, So. G, Xavier
Davante Gardner, Sr. F., Marquette
JaKarr Sampson, So. F, St. John’s
Preseason All-Big East Second Team
Ryan Arcidiacono, So. G, Villanova
Markel Starks, Sr. G., Georgetown
Fuquan Edwin, Sr. G/F, Seton Hall
JayVaughn Pinkston, Jr. F, Villanova
Preseason All-Big East Third Team
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, So. G, Georgetown
Rysheed Jordan, Fr. G., St. John’s
Jamil Wilson, Sr. F, Marquette
Chris Obekpa, So. F., St. John’s
Preseason All-Rookie Team
Rysheed Jordan, G, St. John’s
JaJuan Johnson, G, Marquette
Deonte Burton, F, Marquette
Brandon Austin, F, Providence
Aleksandar “Aleks” Vezenkov, F, Xavier