Poll picks Marquette to win BIG EAST
Marquette, which shared the 2012-13 BIG EAST regular-season crown, has been picked to win the 2013-14 title in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Golden Eagles, who have nine letterwinners and two starters back from last year’s squad that reached the NCAA Elite Eight, received five of the 10 first-place votes and finished with 74 points in the poll.
Head coach Buzz Williams led Marquette to a 14-4 BIG EAST record en route to a share of last year’s conference title. The Golden Eagles finished 26-9 overall. This year, Williams can look to a pair of senior forwards, Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson, for leadership and production. The duo combined to average 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. Gardner, usually the first person off the bench, won the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award.
Georgetown finished a close second in the poll with 70 points, which included two first-place votes. The Hoyas were in a three-way tie with Marquette for first place last year at 14-4 and finished 25-7 overall. Coach John Thompson III must find a way to replace BIG EAST Player of the Year Otto Porter, Jr., but he can build around All-BIG EAST First Team guard Markel Starks.
Newcomer Creighton has been slotted for third place with 61 points. The Bluejays picked up one first-place vote. Last year, Creighton put together a 28-8 record that included advancing to the third round of the NCAA Championship. Coach Greg McDermott has four returning starters, including his son, Doug, who has been a consensus All-American for the past two seasons.
Villanova edged St. John’s for fourth place with 58 points. The Wildcats were 20-14 overall and 10-8 in the BIG EAST last season. Forward JayVaughn Pinkston and guard Ryan Arcidiacono figure to be the leaders of head coach Jay Wright’s club.
St. John’s received two first-place votes and finished fifth in the poll with 56 points. The Red Storm’s 2012-13 season ended in the second round of the NIT. Coach Steve Lavin welcomes back sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson, who was the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. Chris Obekpa, another freshman, led the nation in blocked shots.
Providence is tabbed for sixth. Last year, the Friars played in the postseason for the first time since 2009. With two wins in the NIT, head coach Ed Cooley helped PC get their first postseason victories since 2003. This season, the Friars return sharpshooting guard Bryce Cotton, who led the BIG EAST in scoring with a 19.7 average in all games and 18.3 in league play.
Xavier was placed seventh in the poll. The Musketeers are coming off a 17-14 season under head coach Chris Mack who will depend on guard Semaj Christon, a sophomore who was the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.2 points. His assist total of 139 set a school record for a freshman. He has earned Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team honors.
Seton Hall finished eighth in the poll. The Pirates expect Fuquan Edwin to lead an ascent in the standings. Edwin is one of the top all-around players in the BIG EAST. The 6-6 wing was named Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team by the coaches. He averaged 16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals.
Butler came in ninth. The Bulldogs are led by new head coach Brandon Miller, who played and was an assistant coach at Butler. The Bulldogs have a streak of eight straight 20-win seasons, including a 27-9 campaign last year, and have been ranked in the top 10 five of the last seven seasons. Their top returnee is senior forward Khyle Marshall.
DePaul is 10th, but has the dynamic duo of forward Cleveland Melvin and guard Brandon Young, both seniors. Young was sixth in the BIG EAST in scoring with a 16.7 mark and Melvin was seventh at 16.6. They were the highest scoring pair in the league.
Here are the 2013-14 Preseason Coaches’ Poll vote results, with point totals. First-place votes are in parentheses:
1. Marquette (5) 74
2. Georgetown (2) 70
3. Creighton (1) 61
4. Villanova 58
5. St. John’s (2) 56
6. Providence 41
7. Xavier 38
8. Seton Hall 20
9. Butler 19
10. DePaul 13