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Big East MBB – Preseason Preview & Projection 2021-2022

If you’re just starting to pay attention to Big East hoops again (or any college sports for that matter), there are 2 game-changing NCAA rule updates to note for the 2021-2022 season:

  1. All athletes who were eligible during 2020-2021 were granted an unprecedented additional year of eligibility due to Covid. So, all players that were eligible to play last year have 5 total years of NCAA eligibility.
  2. All athletes this year (and going forward indefinitely) are now allowed a 1-time penalty free transfer. So, players will no longer have to sit out a year to be eligible to transfer among D-1 schools as in years past. Thus, the transfer portal was especially spicy this year.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s get into the preseason preview and projection!

Projected Big East MBB Standings:

  1. Villanova
  2. Xavier
  3. St. Johns
  4. UConn
  5. Seton Hall
  6. Butler
  7. Providence
  8. Creighton
  9. Georgetown
  10. Marquette
  11. DePaul

Projected NCAA Tournament Outlook for the Big East:

  • One Seed Potential – Villanova
  • Locks – Xavier, St John’s, UConn
  • Bubble – Seton Hall, Butler
  • Better Luck Next Year – Everyone Else

Big East Team Projections

1. Villanova

Departures:

  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F – NBA
  • Cole Swider, F – Transfer to Cuse
  • Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree F – Medical retirement, sat out all of 20-21 with injury
  • Kyle Neptune, AC – New Fordham HC. Neptune was Nova’s longest tenured Assistant

Returners/Additions:

  • #3 Big East Recruiting Class (by average recruit ranking) – Freshman are not listed individually as they’re largely unknown quantities at the college level at this point
  • Collin Gillespie, G – Returning extra-year senior
  • Jermaine Samuels, F – Returning extra-year senior
  • Justin Moore G
  • Jermaine Samuels F
  • Caleb Daniels G
  • Brandon Slater F
  • Eric Dixon F
  • Bryan Antoine G
  • Chris Arcidiacono G
  • Trey Patterson F

The kings of the New Big East remain so until someone takes their crown. They lost in the Big East Tournament last year (without Gillespie and Moore) but they did win the regular season. Robinson-Earl left for the NBA, but with Gillespie and Samuels returning for another go around the rest of the Big East will probably have to wait at least another year before attempting to usurp the crown. However, aside from Gillespie, Samuels, Moore and Caleb Daniels there is not a lot of experience for Jay Wright’s squad. No one aside from those 4 averaged 4 or more ppg last year .  If the team fails to fill in around the big 4 or there are key injuries Gillespie and Samuels may find themselves wishing that they didn’t come back for that 5th year of play.

2. Xavier

Departures:

  • C.J. Wilcher G –  Transfer to Nebraska
  • Bryan Griffin F – Pro
  • Jason Carter F – Senior Transfer to Ohio U
  • Daniel Ramsey F – Transfer to Tenn Tech

Returners/Additions:

  • KyKy Tandy G – Opted out of Transfer Portal
  • Paul Scruggs G – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Nate Johnson G – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Jack Nunge F – Transfer from Iowa
  • Jerome Hunter F – Transfer from Indiana
  • Zach Freemantle F
  • Colby Jones G
  • Adam Kunkel G
  • Dwon Odom G
  • Ben Stanley F
  • Danny Ramsey F
  • Dieonte Miles F

The Musketeers floundered down the stretch last season and missed the NCAAT entirely but that seems more due to untimely and lengthy Covid pauses more than anything else. X gets a boon in returning extra-year seniors in Scruggs and Johnson, Iowa transfer Nunge, and Tandy opting to return back to the fold. Zach Freemantle is the Big East’s co-Most Improved Player and earned 2021 Second Team All Big East honors along with Scruggs. Colby Jones also earned a spot on the Big East Freshman Team last year. The Baseline Times also expects Dwon Odom to improve upon his stellar 20-21 campaign and earn Big East Sixth Man of the Year honors. This squad should be deep and experienced – no excuses for Head Coach Travis Steele if he can’t get it done this year. This probably means a top 3 finish in the Big East and at least a 7 seed in the NCAAT. Winning the Big East tournament or regular season would not hurt either. Anything less than the above and Steele’s seat will be as hotter than a $2 pistol. 

3. St. John’s

Departures:

  • Rasheem Dunn G – Senior Transfer to Robert Morris
  • Greg Williams Jr G – Transfer to ULL
  • Marcellus Earlington G/F – Transfer to USD
  • Josh Roberts F – Transfer to Manhattan
  • John McGriff G – Transfer to Binghamton
  • Vince Cole G – Transfer to Coastal Carolina
  • Isaih Moore F – Transfer to Southern Miss
  • David Caraher G – Departed team early last season

Returners/Additions:

  • Aaron Wheeler F – Transfer from Purdue
  • Stef Smith G – Transfer from UVM
  • Joel Soriano F – Transfer from Fordham
  • Montez Mathis G – Transfer from Rutgers
  • Esahia Nyiwe F – Transfer from Texas Tech
  • Julian Champagnie F – Elected not to go to NBA Draft
  • Posh Alexander G
  • Dylan Addae-Wusu G
  • Arnaldo Toro F
  • Aremios Gavalas G

The Red Storm lost almost all of their leading players from last year except for Champagnie and Posh. But those are the two who matter most as Champ was All Big East First Team in 20-21 and Posh made the Freshman Team and also named co-DPOY. If St John’s had returned those two plus most of the rest of their squad, they might have been battling Nova for control of the Big East. However, HC Mike Anderson did bring in some impact transfers in Wheeler, Smith, Soriano, and Mathis so they don’t slide far. In fact, these incoming transfers may be even better than the players they lost but there is something to be said about continuity and development in a system. So, the Johhnies could be feast or famine this year. If the team gels and the role players fit in around Champ and Posh they could be sitting very pretty. If not, it could be a long season in Queens.  Basketball is a game of star power and the Johnnies boast two of the 7 or 8 best players in the league.  I think this ends up as a banner year for the Johnnies. 

4. UConn

Departures:

  • James Bouknight, G – NBA
  • Josh Carlton, F/C – Senior Transfer to Houston
  • Branden Adams, G – Transfer to George Washington
  • Javonte Brown-Ferguson C – Transfer to Texas A&M, did not play in 20-21
  • Kevin Freeman AC – Stepping down from on-court coaching role to an admin role to spend time with family.

Returners/Additions:

  • Big East’s #2 Ranked 2021 Recruiting Class (#1 by avg recruit ranking)
  • Luke Murray AC – Son of Bill Murray but a talent in his own right. Coached under Hurley at URI and Wagner.
  • R.J. Cole G
  • Tyrese Martin G
  • Isaiah Whaley F – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Tyler Polley F – Returning Extra-Year Senior
  • Adama Sanogo F
  • Jalen Gaffney G
  • Andre Jackson G
  • Akok Akok F
  • Richie Springs F
  • Andrew Hurley G

The Huskies suffer the biggest single player loss on this list in G James Bouknight to the NBA. Last year, when they had to play without Bouk they were barely a .500 team… but this will likely help the squad this year as they’ve already had to adjust to life without last year’s star. Whaley returning for another year is huge for UConn as he is the reigning Big East co-DPOY and they need his size, depth, experience, and versatility (nicknamed the Wrench). Sanogo was named to the Big East All Freshman Team and expects to make an even bigger jump in his sophomore season. Fellow Soph Andre Jackson is freak-of-nature athletic and also expected to make a jump. Cole and Martin were transfers last season that seemed to find their stride with the team and the conference as the season progressed. If Junior C/F Akok Akok can return to his 2019 form from achilles injury and their terrific recruiting class can contribute, UConn should find itself in the upper echelon of the Big East once again.

5. Seton Hall

Departures:

  • Sandro Mamukelashvili F – NBA
  • Shavar Reynolds G – Transfer to Monmouth
  • Takal Molson G – Transfer to JMU

Returners/Additions

  • Jamir Harris G – Transfer from American
  • Kadary Richmond G – Transfer from Cuse
  • Alexis Yetna F – Transfer from USF
  • Myles Cale G
  • Jared Rhoden G/F
  • Ike Obiagu C
  • Tyrese Samuel F
  • Bryce Aiken G
  • Jahari Long G
  • Tray Jackson F

After Bouknight and UConn, Seton Hall losing Mamu is likely the second biggest single player loss in the Big East. Jared Rhoden looks to be the next man up leading the Pirates in a one-man wrecking crew linage that seems to go Myles Powell-Mamu-and now to Rhoden. Myles Cale will play Robin to Rhoden’s Batman and defensive stalwart transfers Yetna and Richmond look to make a big impact in their first year in the Big East. Richmond in particular, has been getting hyped up as an incredibly cerebral defender who can fill out a stat sheet. Obiagu still anchors the defense and provides elite rim protection. The Pirates will be long, tough, and exceptionally hard to score on. Expect a lot of slug fests out of this squad.

6. Butler

Departures

  • JaKobe Coles – Transfer to TCU
  • Markeese Hastings F – Transfer to WMU but opted out of most of 20-21 season.

Returners/Additions

  • Ty Groce F – Transfer from Eastern Michigan
  • Chuck Harris G
  • Aaron Thompson G
  • Jair Bolden G
  • Bryce Nze F
  • Bryce Golden F
  • Bo Hodges G
  • Myles Tate G
  • Myles Wilmouth F
  • John-Michael Mulloy F
  • Christian David G

Butler is certainty the most experienced team in the Big East, maybe the most experienced team in the entire country from top to bottom. Of the eight returners/incoming transfers who expect to see significant playing time, six are seniors (five of whom are redshirt seniors). Heck, at this rate the Bulldogs rotation might be older on average than the OKC Thunder who have an average age of 23.5. The one starter who is not a senior, Chuck Harris, was their best scorer last year as a freshman and potentially their best player in 21-22. Aaron Thompson is the team leader and facilitator, averaging 4.7 apg and all of the starters have the ability to average 10+ ppg. Butler battled with health issues last year but if they have better luck in that regard and Harris takes a step forward like expected LaVall Jordan’s squad will be in the hunt for an at-large bid.

7. Providence

Departures

  • David Duke G – NBA
  • Greg Gantt F – Transfer to NC State
  • Jimmy Nichols F – Transfer to VCU

Additions/Returners

  • Aljami Durham G – Transfer from Indiana
  • Justin Minaya F – Transfer from South Carolina
  • Nate Watson C – Extra year senior
  • Noah Horchler F – Extra year senior
  • A.J. Reeves G
  • Jared Bynum G
  • Alyn Breed G
  • Brycen Goodine G
  • Ed Croswell F

Ed Cooley’s squad got a huge lift when C Nate Watson decided to return for an extra year. He made a leap to almost 17 ppg in 20-21, from less than 10 ppg in 19-20. Al Durham also transfers in from Indiana averaging 11 pts, 3 rebs, and almost 3 asts per game in the Big Ten. The change of scenery should do him good, and I expect him to continue or improve that production in the Big East. He won’t fill David Duke’s shoes but AJ Reeves and Jared Bynum should be able to shoulder more of the load after another year of development.  The Friars ceiling appears to a middle of the pack finish in the Big East and perhaps one of the last few into the dance. However, Prov is always a tough out.

8. Creighton

Departures:

  • Marcus Zegarowski G – Pro
  • Mitchell Ballock G – Pro
  • Denzel Mahoney G/F – Pro
  • Christian Bishop F – Transfer to Texas
  • Damien Jefferson F – Pro

Returners/Additions:

  • #1 Recruiting Class in the Big East and #7 class in the country
  • Ryan Hawkins F – Transfer from D-II SW Missouri State
  • Keyshawn Feazell F – Transfer from McNeese State
  • Shereef Mitchell G
  • Ryan Kalkbrenner F/C
  • Alex O’Connell G
  • Rati Andronikashvili G – Medical redshirt
  • Modestas Kancleris F – Medical redshirt

The Bluejays are the youngest and least experienced squad in the Big East this year. Having lost the vast majority of their production from last year, they don’t have a player who has averaged 6 or more points in P6 play. They do bring in transfers Hawkins and Feazell who averaged 22.6 and 13.1 ppg in lesser leagues. Kalkbenner will be Creighton’s best player and premier rim protector this year. On the flip side, Coach McDermott brought in a heck of a recruiting class, the best ever in their history. It is 5 players deep, 4 of which are in the top 75 players in the 2021 class: Arthur Kaluma, Trey Alexander, Mason Miller, and Ryan Nembhard. In addition, the Bluejays get another highly touted recruit back who missed all of last year due to injury in Andronikashvili. Those 5 in fact represent the 5 best recruits that have ever signed with Creighton. The future looks bright for McDermott’s squad but this year will bring some growing pains for Creighton’s version of the Fab 5.

9. Georgetown

Departures:

  • Jahvon Blair G – Pro
  • Jamorko Pickett F – NBA G League
  • TJ Berger G – Transfer to San Diego
  • Qudus Wahab C – Transfer to Marlyand
  • Chudier Bile F
  • Jalen Harris

Returners/Additions:

  • Kaiden Rice G – Transfer from The Citadel
  • # 1 Recruit in the Big East this year
  • Chudier Bile F
  • Donald Carey G
  • Dante Harris G
  • Jalen Harris G
  • Timothy Ighoefe C
  • Collin Holloway F
  • Jamari Sibley F
  • Kobe Clark F
  • Malcolm Wilson C

Patrick Ewing had the Hoyas rolling at the end of last season. You likely know that they won the BET but you may not know that they went 10-5 to end the season with losses only to tournament teams (Nova, Creighton, UConn x2, and Colorado). Unfortunately, Georgetown lost its three most productive players from that team in Pickett, Blair, and Wahab. I expect Sophomore Dante Harris to make a leap forward this year and transfer Rice averaged 17.6 ppg for the Citadel last year. The Hoyas figured to have the services of EKU transfer Tre King but news just broke last week that he will not be with the team, a major blow for their 2021-22 season.  Georgetown didn’t bring in an overall top recruiting class but they did land the top incoming recruit in 5 star shooting guard Aminu Mohammed (there is also a familiar name in 4 star center Ryan Mutombo).  So, Ewing will have a squad to get into shape but it will be tough to replace the lost production entirely. If Ewing can get them rocking like the end of last year – look out. However, if the team doesn’t gel it could get ugly.

10. Marquette

Departures:

  • Steve Wojciechowski HC – Fired
  • Dawson Garcia F – Transfer to UNC
  • D.J. Carton – Pro
  • Theo John F – Transfer to Duke
  • Koby McEwen G – Transfer to Weber State
  • Jose Perez G – Transfer to Manhattan
  • Jamal Cain F – Transfer to Oakland

Returners/Additions:

  • Shaka Smart, HC – Hired from Texas (Before he could be fired from there)
  • Darryl Morsell G – Transfer from Maryland
  • Tyler Kolek G – Transfer from George Mason
  • Kur Kuath F – Transfer from Oklahoma
  • Olivier-Maxence Prosper F – Transfer from Clemson
  • Justin Lewis F
  • Greg Eliott G
  • Oso Ighodaro F

Shaka Smart arrives in from Texas to replace the ousted Wojo. He inherits a squad with a lot of roster turnover and lacking the best players from last year’s Golden Eagles squad in Garcia, Carton, and John. He did have success in bringing in some bigtime transfers in Morsell, Kolek, Kuath, and Maxence Prosper. It also feels like this job is a more natural fit for Smart as a Wisconsin native. He is at the helm of more of an upstart, scrappy bunch rather than the number one athletic department by revenue in the country. This is a role he thrived in at the helm of the VCU Rams.  I feel like Shaka will get the Marquette magic rolling but it will take him a few years to really contend in the Big East.

11. DePaul

Departures:

  • Dave Leitao HC – Fired
  • Romeo Weems – Pro
  • Pauly Paulicap – Transfer to WVU
  • Charlie Moore G – Transfer to Miami
  • Ray Salnave G – Transfer to UMBC
  • Kobe Elvis G – Transfer to Dayton
  • Darious Hall F – Transfer to Central Arkansas
  • Keon Edwards – Transfer to Nebraska

Returners/Additions:

  • Tony Stubblefield HC – Former Asst Coach at Oregon
  • Jalen Terry G – Transfer from Oregon
  • Brandon Johnson F – Transfer from Minnesota
  • Tyon Grant-Foster F – Transfer from Kansas
  • Philmon Gebrewhit G – JUCO Transfer
  • Yor Anei F – Transfer from SMU
  • Javan Johnson F – Transfer from Iowa St.
  • Javon Freeman-Liberty G
  • Nick Ongenda F
  • Courvoisier McCauley G
  • David Jones G/F

The Tony Stubblefield era begins in Chicago.  Dave Leitao didn’t leave the cupboard completely bare but Stubblefield had to rely on bringing in a litany of transfers.  He succeeded in bringing in others from P6 or other high-major schools.  Javon Freeman-Liberty ran the show for the Blue Demons last year (avg more than 14 ppg), we will see what Stubblefield brings to stylistically to Chicago.  He has a good pedigree and many years of experience as a long time assistant at Oregon.  He seems like a man who is up to the task of turning things around for DePaul but time will tell.


Check Out the Baseline Times’ Projected Big East Year End Awards

2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big Ten

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

In 2019, the Big Ten was the top conference in college basketball and while it did lose some top tier talent, it still remains the home of potentially ten NCAA Tournament teams.

Let’s take a closer look at the Big Ten conference for the 2020-21 basketball season.

Conference Preview
Valedictorian: Wisconsin, Iowa
Top of the Class: Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Rutgers
Needs Tutoring: Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State
Failing: Nebraska, Northwestern

Players to Watch
* Marcus Carr, Minnesota (6-2 JR Guard)
* Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois (6-5 JR Guard)
* Seth Towns, Ohio State (6-8 SR Forward)
* Aaron Henry, Michigan State (6-6 JR Forward)
* Luke Garza, Iowa (6-11 SR Center)

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More NCAAB coverage from Baseline Times

2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big 12

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

There may not be a conference as strong in 2020 than the Big 12. The normal powerhouses sit at the top, but up to seven teams could get into the NCAA Tournament come March.

Let’s dive right into the preview of the Big 12!

Conference Preview
Valedictorians: Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas
Top of the Class: West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma
Needs Tutoring: Iowa State, TCU
Failing: Kansas State

Players to Watch
* Jared Butler, Baylor
(6-3 JR Guard): Withdrew his name from the NBA Draft and instantly became the front-runner to win Big 12 Player of the Year. Averaged over 16 PPG last season.
* Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State (6-8 FR Guard): Star freshman may be the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Triple-double threat who can finish at the rim.
* Marcus Garrett, Kansas (6-5 SR Guard): Versatile guard who will likely contribute more offensively this season. Best defensive guard in the country as the defending National Defensive Player of the Year last season.
* Greg Brown, Texas (6-9 FR Forward): Another super frosh for the Longhorns, Brown flirted with the G-League before signing with the Longhorns. Will be a huge factor in getting Texas over the hump and back into Big 12 title contention.
* Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia (6-9 SO Forward): Considered jumping to the NBA, but made the right decision to return to school. Tshiebwe is a strong rebounder and finisher inside who will have more opportunities to impress in his sophomore season.

Final Take
The Big 12 from top to bottom is solid and have two true title contenders with a handful of teams likely to head to the dance.

Baylor is my favorite to win the title this season led by Butler and MaCio Teague, who both had options to head to the NBA. They’ll have some options at forward including Tristan Clark, transfer Jonathan Pchamwa Tchatchoua, and frehman Zach Loveday and Dain Dainja.

Overall, they are deeper and better than last season’s squad that won 26 games and was likely on their way to being a No. 1 seed. I truly love this Baylor team to make a deep run, but they’ll have Kansas right on their heels.

Kansas is just as deep as Baylor with a great mix of veterans such as Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, and David McCormack plus the addition of newcomers including outstanding freshman Bryce Thompson make Kansas again a Final Four threat.

Kansas looked to be a front-runner for the National title in 2020 before the cancallation and losing players like Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike will hurt, but I think both Kansas and Baylor could be Final Four teams this season.

Texas Tech will take some time to mesh as their roster was overhauled after last season, but come February, Chris Beard will likely have another powerhouse squad ready to make a postseason run. Don’t sleep on West Virginia either this season as Bob Huggins returns four starters from last year’s 21-win team.

The Texas Longhorns are the darkhorse of the Big 12. They feature a great set of guards led by Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, and Andrew Jones. Returning from injury will also be sharpshooter Jase Ferbes to add even more depth to the Texas backcourt.

Then, you jump to the frontcourt where Texas features a standout freshman in Greg Brown, who many thought was heading to the G-League to prep for the NBA. Signing Brown to pair with Jericho Sims and Gerald Liddell was huge for Texas to jump into the Big 12 conversation.

Not to mention, Shaka Smart may be in his make-or-break season with the Longhorns as he’s 90-78 in his five seasons with Texas with nothing to truly show for his tenure yet. This is the squad he’s been waiting on. Texas will be a fun team to watch for many reasons this season.

Cade Cunningham will draw a ton of attention on the Oklahoma State program this season, but as of now, the Cowboys still aren’t eligible to participate in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, so we’ll see how that plays out.

Oklahoma returns both Austin Reaves (14.7 PPG) and Brady Manek (14.4 PPG) which means they could be playing for a spot in the middle of the NCAA Tournament. TCU (Desmond Baine) and Iowa State (Tyrese Haliburton) lost their superstars to the NBA, so they’ll both struggle to stay out of last this season in the Big 12.

Kansas State also loss many players and they’ll spend 2020-21 rebuilding that program with some transfers and younger players.

At the end of the day, the Big 12 may be the best conference in all of college basketball and could possibly see four teams make the Sweet 16 and advance two to the Final Four. Maybe even a Baylor-Kansas National Championship?

I can see it!

2020-21 College Basketball Preview: Big East

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

The Big East use to be a traditional powerhouse, but it’s just been the Villanova-conference the past few seasons. This year isn’t much different, but Creighton and the return of UConn will make it a bit more difficult this season.

Let’s take a closer look at the Big East!

Conference Preview
Valedictorian: Villanova
Top of the Class: Creighton, Connecticut, Seton Hall
Needs Tutoring: St. John’s, Providence, Marquette, Xavier
Failing: Georgetown, Butler, DePaul

Players to Watch
* Collin Gillespie, Villanova
(6-3 SR Guard): Maybe the best PG in college basketball this season. Runs Jay Wright’s offense to perfection and if Villanova is a title contender, Gillespie will be a National Player of the Year contender as well.
* Bryce Aiken, Seton Hall (6-0 SR Guard): There’s no replacing Myles Powell, but the Harvard transfer will likely be the new go-to Pirate this season for Seton Hall if Aiken stays healthy.
* Bryan Antoine, Villanova (6-5 SO Guard): Expect a breakout year from the former McDonald’s All-American after injuries derailed his freshman campaign.
* Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton (6-2 JR Guard): The league’s returning scorer should have another big season. Zegarowski is a great scorer (16.1 PPG last season) and well-rounded point guard who will look to lead Creighton to a Big East title.
* Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova (6-9 SO Forward): In a guard-heavy conference, Robinson-Earl is by far the best big man averaging nearly 10-10 last season.

Final Take
Three teams could contend for the Big East crown, but I still feel Villanova should have everyone in their rear-view. The Wildcats only loss one player from last year’s 24-win team and while that player was their best player (Saddiq Bey, 16.1 PPG), Villanova still features a top tier PG (Gillespie), multiple standout guards (Justin Moore, Bryan Antoine, and Caleb Daniels), and a great big man down low (Robinson-Earl).

Villanova will likely be a contender for both the Big East title and the NCAA title, but don’t sleep on Creighton. Creighton would’ve been a top five team if Ty-Shon Alexander would’ve stuck around one more year. Nonetheless, with four returning scorers and the addition of Ryan Kalkbrenner will still lead them to a top ten ranking some time this season.

UConn rejoins the conference and will shake things up a bit, but don’t expect the UConn of old to take over the conference. At least not this season. UConn is more likely to compete with the likes of Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Providence for that third spot in the conference.

Georgetown looked to be building back up as a contender in the Big East, but the loss of Mac McClung hurt bad. Still, the Hoyas will be the strongest team in the conference with some good interior players, but lack of guards, especially defensively, will hurt them throughout the season.

Marquette, Butler, and Xavier are still going through a bit of a rebuild after some success a few years back in the conference while DePaul remain the cellar team of the conference.

2020-21 College Basketball Preview: ACC

For college hoops fans, it’s been the longest offseason in history with no NCAA Tournament back in March and even as we moved through the summer, we still never was for sure if we’d even see college basketball in the fall.

Yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 NCAA College Basketball season is officially underway and yes, there will be many schedule changes and postponements like we’ve seen in college football, it’s still nice to just get to this point.

This season will be like any other, but many of the names at the top will stay the same as we dive in and preview the 2020-21 college hoops season starting with the ACC.

Conference Preview
Valedictorians: Virginia, Duke
Top of the Class: North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Syracuse, Georgia Tech
Needs Tutoring: Miami, NC State, Clemson, Virginia Tech
Failing: Boston College, Notre Dame, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest

Players to Watch
* Sam Hauser, Virginia
(6-8 SR Forward): Transfer who could be the x-factor for Virginia to contend for a title.
* Garrison Brooks, North Carolina (6-9 SR Forward): Will lead Carolina back to a tradition of contending for the ACC crown.
* Jalen Johnson, Duke (6-8 FR Forward): Star freshman that will be the next in line to win at Duke then head to the NBA.
* Scottie Barnes, Florida State (6-9 FR Forward): Florida State lost a bunch of talent to the Draft, but Barnes will still lead the Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament.
* Chris Lykes, Miami (5-7 SR Guard): The most underrated guard in the country, Lykes is dynamic and impressive. Lykes’ will likely be a contender for ACC Player of the Year if Miami can stay competitive.

Final Take
The ACC lost more talent than anyone to the NBA and graduation, but as usual, has reloaded led by the traditional powerhouses. Virginia and Duke both look like title contenders this season, but it’ll be Virginia that stands out as the favorite led by a trio of stars with Kihei Clark, Jay Hugg, and Sam Hauser.

Duke will be led by freshman again this season, so they’ll need to mesh quickly to contend in 2020. North Carolina should be much improved this season as Garrison Brooks returns plus another star-studded recruiting class makes their way to Chapel Hill.

Florida State will also be contender and keep an eye on Georgia Tech this season as Josh Pastner has one of the best backcourts in the league this season. Louisville, Syracuse, and maybe even Miami will also have a chance to advance to some March Madness come 2021.

The bottom half of the ACC will still have question marks entering the new season. NC State returns a few players, but lost do-everything star Markell Johnson and will struggled to even get back to .500 play this season in the ACC.

Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Notre Dame weren’t able to land any key recruits to change their basketball culture this season, but of the four, Aamir Sims may be able to guide Clemson to pulling a few upsets this season.

Pittsburgh enters year two under Jeff Capel, but is still a couple years away from truly contending in the ACC as they are very young and inexperienced which will cause them to struggle in league play.

Wake Forest has a new coach in former ETSU head man Steve Forbes, but it’ll be a while before their back in the upper-half of the standings.

Overall, many new faces, but it’ll be the normal suspects at the top of the ACC with three teams a chance to bring home another National Championship to the ACC. Each team enters the season with some questions, but Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina all have the pieces to make a deep run come March and April.

Big 10, Pac-12 Punt On Fall Football

Over the last few weeks, it has become inevitable that the college football season was in jeopardy.

Although players, coaches and, of course, fans have been loud and outspoken about wanting to play, on Tuesday, a major domino would fall.

Two of the most prestigious conferences in the NCAA pulled the plug on playing football this fall as both the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they would not be playing fall sports including football this year.

Many had the feeling that these would be the first two conferences to say no to playing this fall. The Big Ten was intentionally the first team to release a 2020 altered schedule leading to believe they were set to play this season.

Mentioning concerns with the pandemic and safety of the players, first-year Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren made the Big Ten the first of the Power Five conferences to pull the plug.

The Pac-12 followed meaning at this point, 40% of the major college football teams have now decided to not play football this fall.

Top tier teams now such as Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oregon, USC, Arizona State and countless others will now attempt to put together a plan for football in the spring.

As of today, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 of the Power Five plus the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Sun Belt have made no immediate moves. The three remaining Power Five conferences have made their intentions known they still have plans to play this fall.

While the pandemic is a great concern of every team and conference in the nation, one thing that should be addressed as soon as possible is that college football in the spring in not feasible.

Playing a sport as grueling as college football, especially for positions like linemen and running backs, is just not possible twice in one calendar year.

Plus, if there is a chance that the SEC, ACC, Big 12 or any mix of those figure out a way to play in the fall, it will make it even more likely that there could be no spring football season for just the Big Ten and/or Pac-12.

Especially if the NFL Draft chooses to not move the NFL Draft which is scheduled for April 2021. Even if they were to postpone or move it to the summer, top tier prospects would not play and put themselves at risk of getting injured that close to becoming a pro.

If spring college football some how did happen, it wouldn’t be anything like you would watch in the fall. Key players would be missing, rankings would be skewed and would we even have a Playoff or bowl games?

Flying under the radar in all of this is the Pac-12 is now the first to make a statement about basketball as well. Just like football players, coaches and fans held on hope during the college basketball shut down earlier in the year about playing, the roles have now switched.

Unfortunately, unless some-how college basketball can figure out a modified “bubble” style similar to what the NBA and WNBA is using very successfully, we’re about to enter another sports season with a massive gap.

At this point, if we can’t play college football, we’re not playing college basketball either.

Pac-12 not only called off fall football, but they also said there will be NO sports until at least January 2021 cutting out the first half of the basketball season on the west coast.

It’s time to get real about all this. You’re either playing football this fall or you’re not until fall of 2021.

Will there be any teams start to rebel? I mean, Ohio State was without question going to be a National Contender this year. Michigan’s head coach Jim Harbaugh has been one of the most outspoken about wanting to play this fall.

What happens if they reach out to the SEC or ACC about playing some games? The AAC is on the outside-looking-in when it comes to the Power Five, so what if they reach out to Ohio State and Michigan while Nebraska wants to play some SEC teams and Oregon reaches out to the Big 12?

How can the NCAA say no to them? Will players transfer? Will coaches like Harbaugh, David Shaw, Scott Frost and Chris Petersen start looking at NFL jobs?

Without question, there will be severe repercussions if the Big Ten and Pac-12 don’t play, but the other Power Five conferences do play in the fall. It’s safe to bet that the landscape of college football would never be the same following a year that has changed the lives of millions.

I’m anxious for the next couple of weeks because I expect much more changes and announcements from the teams that have now cancelled their season plus there is without question a possibility more conferences could also pull the plug on their season soon as well.

As we said in March when this reared its ugly head, when it comes to looking forward to anything in 2020, don’t hold your breath…especially when it comes to college athletics this years.

Mountain West Pulls Plug On Fall Sports

Add the Mountain West conference to the list of conferences not playing football this fall.

In an announcement on Monday, the Mountain West joined the MAC as the FBS teams to pull the plug on Fall sports this year due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the postponement is “indefinite,” the league will work towards looking into playing in the Spring if the option is available.

No Power 5 conference has postponed it’s Fall sports’ season as of Tuesday morning, but the Big Ten could make a decision as early as Tuesday regarding their playing status this season.

Fall College Football Season In Jeopardy?

After taking precautions this off-season including programs delaying summer conditioning and preseason practice, adding and following health and safety protocols, and altering the schedule to only play conference opponents, it still seems the hopes of a fall college football season is fading quickly.

Last week, NCAA Division II and III both canceled their fall sports championships resulting in many conferences pushing back football to the spring of 2021.

In the FBS, UConn got the ball rolling by suspending all football activities for the 2020 season. This worried some around college football, but some others brushed it off due to the fact that UConn was playing as an independent this season therefore would’ve faced problems just getting a full schedule.

Then, on Saturday, the first major domino may have fallen.

The first FBS conference to pull the plug on fall sports would be the Mid-American Conference as they announced that they would postpone the entire fall sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

League presidents voted unanimously for the postponement and will hold on hope there will be a way to play football in the spring.

The MAC is in no way a Power 5 conference, but without the ability to play non-conference games against Power 5 schools, the MAC member schools would be strained in their ability to implement all the safety and health protocols the bigger conferences would have in their journey to play this season.

Therefore, that still leaves a bit of hope for Power 5 football this fall…until Sunday.

An emergency meeting between commissioners of the Power 5 conferences was held to discuss the likelihood of actually playing fall sports. The overall feeling from the meeting was that every day that goes by, it seems more and more likely that it would be impossible to play this fall.

Many conference leaders, especially those from the Big Ten, expressed interest in postponing the college football season until the Spring in hopes that the pandemic would be better controlled by early next year.

While conference leaders explore different avenues for the season, players have begin to jump in to the talks.

While some notable players have opted out of the 2020 college football season including projected NFL first-round picks Caleb Farley (CB, V-Tech), Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pitt), Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue), and Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State) among others, maybe the most notable spoke out on Sunday.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence took to Twitter with a series of tweets expressing interest in playing and also, mentioning the risks involved with not playing this season.

Using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, Lawrence was met with support from other notable players including Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Cuba Hubbard and Alabama running back Najee Harris.

Parents from many players have also pledged their support to the players movement of playing this season.

If there is play, regardless of the schedule or if teams just play “regional” opponents, if there is travel, there will be positive tests.

It’s inevitable with the virus at it’s current state.

Major League Baseball has ran into it’s problems with multiple outbreaks and while that will get the mass attention, for the most part, the season has been a success through early-August.

The way it looks though now, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Fall features only pro football and we see a Spring college football season featuring an unusual schedule, a high number of injuries and many notable players opting out due to the risk with playing so close to the NFL Draft.

But, hey, spring college football is better than no college football, right?

ACC Sets 11-Game Football Schedule, Adds Notre Dame for 2020

While the fate of college football is still very uncertain, conferences continue to make changes to accommodate travel and other concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that it has reworked it’s football scheduling to allow each team to play a total of 11 games and will incorporate Notre Dame to the ACC for the 2020 football season.

Notre Dame, which competes in the conference for each sport except football, has lost many opponents already this season with conferences moving for conference-only schedules. With that in mind, Notre Dame will give up it’s independent status this year in hopes to have a full schedule of opponents.

The ACC also announced that it will eliminate the traditional divisional format for the 2020 season. The two teams with the best winning percentage will meet for the ACC Championship.

Notre Dame, as part of the deal, will equally share TV revenue among the 15 schools. Specific game dates and broadcast details will be released in the coming days.