Big East Contenders or Pretenders?


Play on: Uconn basketball court at the XL Center. Photo courtesy of Jake Israelite, February 26, 2020.

Jake Israelite, Staff Writer

     Conference play has begun in the Big East Conference for men’s basketball. Top teams fighting for seeding in the conference tournament include Villanova, Creighton, and UConn, all nationally ranked by the AP top 25 poll, according to college 

     Which of these teams are contending or pretending, and is there a dark horse that can go on a run and win the conference? UConn season ticket holder Jon Israelite said his contender would be Villanova, his pretender would be Providence, and his dark horse would be Xavier.

     Villanova currently sits on top of the conference and is number three in the country with an 8-1 record and 3-0 record in conference play (1/21/21). Israelite said, “The Wildcats are the biggest contender in this conference because their head coach and players are all experienced.” Their head coach Jay Wright has been with the wildcats for 17 seasons and has won two championships. This team scores a lot, scoring the third most points per game in the Big East with 80. 

     The pretending team is Providence, primarily because there is no winning culture or recent history. The Friars haven’t made the final four in the 34 years, and for a team in a premier basketball conference like the Big East this just proves they aren’t a winning team with a good culture. The Friars have made the NCAA tournament only six times out of the last 20 years. said that Providence is the eighth best scoring team in the Big East and last in three point percentage, shooting only 31% from three. Freshman basketball player Daniel Enrico said that three point shooting is very important to winning as it is a way to get more points faster. The lack of winning and scoring will be a big problem come this March when teams learn how to beat Providence’s defense, which doesn’t look that scary on paper.

     The dark horse, the team that could come out of nowhere and win, would be Xavier. At Xavier they have a winning culture, as they have made the NCAA tournament in 15 out of the last 17 years. Xavier is 10-2 but only in fifth place because they are 3-2 in conference play. This is important because conference play is responsible for determining the conference standings. Xavier is clearly better than their record says. Israelite says, “Xavier is a good scoring team and doesn’t play the best defense, but it isn’t the worst.” Xavier isn’t the greatest three point shooting team: Being seventh in three point shooting in the conference, they make up for the lack of shooting with good inside play. 

     Enrico said that if teams go down by a lot it will be harder to come back with less shooting. Xavier also has the second highest field goal percentage in the conference. On top of that, they have the third best rebounding team. This will make up for any three point shooting opportunities they miss out on.

     Another team that could come out of nowhere could be Seton Hall. People are sleeping on this team that was just good a year ago. The Pirates aren’t doing that bad this year, but they’re not doing great. They don’t do anything exceptionally well, but they play a sound and balanced game of basketball; the Pirates might not be the most exciting team to watch, but they win games and that’s all that matters.