This season Big East divisional play is slated to be much more captivating, as powerhouse teams return young players to take the stage, and an unprecedented 18-game schedule will make each game a pivotal one.
In accordance with the expanded conference schedule, every team in the division will play one another at least once. This schedule, a first ever in the division, comes alongside an exclusive deal in which every Big East inter-conference game will be broadcast on ESPN or one of its sister networks.
Key teams to watch this season include the returning Big East Champion Georgetown Hoyas, who have only lost one starter from last year’s team. The Hoyas reached the Final Four last season, and is in a position to build on that success. It is already considered to be among the favorites to take the division.
Louisville, another heavily favored team, had an impressive 24-10 season last year and retained its seven top scorers. The Cardinals are led by successful coach Rick Pitino and are expected to make an impact on the national level.
Another possible contender is Marquette. With two consecutive 20-win seasons and an NCAA tournament appearance last year, the Golden Eagles are flying high on confidence and experience. Dominic James returns from an unsuccessful attempt in the NBA draft, looking to showcase himself and raise his prospects this year.
Other notables include UConn, who are expected to be past last year’s growing pains, Syracuse, with two All-American Freshmen and solid defense, Notre Dame, looking to avenge an embarrassing departure from last year’s NCAA tournament, and Seton Hall, who is especially impressive given its lack of size.
The Red Storm again looks to exceed expectations while shaking the bad luck and injuries that have plagued it in recent years. Despite the challenges it faces going in with such a young roster, fourth year head coach Norm Roberts and his team feel they’re ready to test themselves in the highly competitive conference.
“You’ve got Louisville, Georgetown, Marquette- they’re experienced, but there’s a lot of young teams here, and games are going to be decided on how those young guys develop,” Roberts said.
Roberts’ outlook is mirrored in his players, including guard Larry Wright and guard/forward D.J. Kennedy.
“The Big East is a big conference, everybody’s going to go deep,” Kennedy said.
Wright echoed similar sentiments.
“No game is solid, anyone can win on any given night.”