By Andy Mac Williams, 8/27/2019

American loves lists thus the proliferation of so-called "Way too Early" Top 25s and bogus Power Ratings in college basketball. It's far too soon to start handicapping the BIG EAST race. The schedule doesn't even come out until after Labor Day, but stuff is happening around the BE-mainly good stuff leading up to Year 7 of the reconfigured BIG EAST. The first 6 seasons have produced 32 NCAA bids-w/ a low water mark of 4 both last year and in Year 1(4 bids). I see a return to trend line and 6 NCAA slots for this coming season.

Villanova's obviously been the BIG HORSE w/ two NCAA Titles(2016 and 2018)-5 BE regular season championships and 4 BE Tournament titles. 2019-2020 should be the most balanced BE race yet. The BET at MSG could be epically competitive-not just a Nova coronation?? Seton Hall is the only team to beat Villanova in the BET(2014-1st Round-2016 Championship Game). VU has won 3 straight at MSG(2017-2019) although Xavier came so close last March in the Semis(block-charge call went against Naji Marshall w/ game tied in final seconds of second half-XU lost in OT). Here's a look at ANDY MAC's current TOP 3 as of late August other than the Muskies. I put XU at or near the TOP of the BIG EAST(What did you expect??).


The Wildcats have no Seniors. Both Phil Booth and Eric Pashcal(47% of their scoring) have graduated. PG Jahvon Quinerly has transferred to Alabama. Coach Jay Wright is off helping to coach USA Basketball in the FIBA World Tournament. Jay is reloading.

PG Collin Gillespie(Junior) is the key piece. He started all last season and was the best BE All Star on the Pan American bronze medal team in Peru. Gillespie is a tough former football quarterback w/ a deadly 3 point stroke. VU is very young at guard after Gillespie.

Three frosh will compete for time(Chris Archidiacano-Ryan's brother-Justin Moore and Bryan Antoine). Antoine is a 5 star from New Jersey(Ranney School) who played against XU's Zach Freemantle for State Titles. He is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and may not play until December or later.

The VU Wings are very good. Junior Jermaine Samuels exploded for 29 points in a key February win over Marquette and played well thru the rest of the season. He continued to improve in the Pan Am Games as a starter. Soph Saddiq Bey started as a Frosh and learned the system. Cole Swider(XU was second inn his recruiting derby) was hurt early,but played decent minutes late and should be a factor.

The BIGS have potential. 5 Star Frosh Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will be an instant starter at the "5" ala Omari Spellman two years ago without the red shirt year though.Jeremiah is playing for USA Basketball's U19 National Team. Dahmire Cosby-Roundtree is a solid Junior at 6-8. Frosh Eric Dixon has a road grader body(6-8,270) and reminds people of Eric Paschal when he transferred in from Fordham. Nova has a ton of talent,but for peak performance several Frosh must start and produce certainly by BIG EAST time in January.


Kevin Willard's group lost to Villanova in the BET Title game and almost everybody is back including 23PPG sniper guard Myles Powell. He's been a Xavier killer(22PPG in 6 meetings over 3 seasons). Powell and SF Myles Cale played in the Pan Am Games then joined Seton Hall on a two game. They consider themselves BIG EAST favorites this year and plan on a deep NCAA run.

Tour of Italy (I love that entrée at Olive Garden). Powell did not play in Italy-held out after an injury in Peru. Cale will play at SF. GUARDS: Powell may play more at the PG. That's where his NBA future lies at 6-2. Quincy Mc Knight's minutes at PG may be reduced? He's a Senior now and solid Sacred Heart transfer who gave XU problems. Soph PG Anthony Nelson(6-4) showed well late last season so Willard has to find line-ups to maximize his minutes.

BIGS: Sandro Mamukelashvili(6-10) improved light years as a Sophomore. He is bulky and mobile and can shoot w/ range. 6-6 Soph SF-PF Jarred Rhoden improved late last season and rebounds aggressively. Syracuse transfer Taurean Thompson(6-10) can score in bunches but seems to have a fatal aversion to rebounding and defense?

SHU now has 2 seven footers. Romero Gill blocked a bunch of shots at Cintas in a Seton Hall win. He hardly played vs Xavier in Newark. Florida State transfer Ike Ibiagu is now eligible. Can Willard ever play them together? The Pirates also have a good Frosh(6-8 Tyrese Samuel from Canada). The Hall is deep and experienced. Dickie "V" has then #14 nationally. Powell may be BE MVP. NCAA 1st Round losers to Wofford last season


The Friars were slowed by inexperienced guard play last season. PC took an unofficial out of country trip this Summer when Coach Ed Cooley was picked to run the BIG EAST All Stars to represent the USA in the Pan Am Games in Peru. Cooley took 4 Friars. Senior star forward Alpha Diallo played very well in Lima. He's a 1st TEAM BIG EAST guy.

BIG Nate Watson player a bunch(6-9,240). He's one of the best "5s" in the conference. PG David Duke played behind Gillespie in the Pan Ams.He's 6-5 and still learning to make proper decisions. Wing A. J. Burnett started well for PC in the non-conference last season,but a foot injury ruined his season. A new entry at PG is grad transfer Luwane Pipkins from UMass(16PPG-7 assists). Pipkins sat out the Peru trip w/ a sore knee.

Cooley has depth w/ Kahlif Young(SR "5"), 6-9 Soph Jimmy Nichols and solid guard Malik White. A return to the NCAAs is a strong possibility. PC again will be almost impossible to beat at the Dunk. Our next piece on Thursday will include notes on Georgetown, Creighton and Marquette.

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