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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Villanova picked to win the Big East as Xavier and Seton Hall looms as competition


                                                            Photo Credit: Geno Green


NEW YORK, N.Y.— Another campaign dawns in the Big East, where the Villanova Wildcats have been the team to beat since reconfiguration in 2013-14 as they have won the last four conference championships in the regular season.

The Wildcats were picked as the Big East men’s basketball regular season champion in the league’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll with eight first-place votes.
                                                 
The Seton Hall Pirates and Xavier Musketeers finished second and third, respectively and return strong, veteran players, which could serve as potential challengers to the Wildcats in a league where seven teams make the NCAA Tournament last season.

All-Big East first team Seton Hall forward Angel Delgado returns for his senior season despite entering the NBA Draft this past spring, before withdrawing from consideration. After a 2016-17 season with an average of 15.2 points and 13.1 rebounds per game, Delgado worked on his outside shot in the off-season in hopes of being able to stretch out defenses on top of his stellar low-post game.

“I have a lot to show people what I can do and have put a lot of new things into my game,” Delgado said. “I want to be able to shoot from the outside a lot more and worked on it a lot during the summer. I think it will be an exciting year and having the bigger guys around me have made my jump hook way higher than before.”

Among power conferences, the Big 12 and the Big East plays in a round robin schedule and Villanova coach Jay Wright emphasized the importance of road games in league play with football as a non-factor for the ten schools during the coaches’ panel.

“Wherever you go, it is the biggest thing happening around town and unlike the football schools, the road games are a big deal,” Wright said. “It’s always a big time atmosphere and that is what makes the Big East unique.”

Villanova headlined the accolades as Jalen Brunson was named conference preseason Player of the Year, while Omari Spellman won Freshman of the Year.

Despite being ruled ineligible last season due to academic reasons, Spellman maintained his eligibility and will look to fill the void left by Kris Jenkins in the frontcourt.

“Omari can do a lot and is a really great player. He gives us another dimension and more depth,” Brunson said. “We have already seen him practice and has been rebounding his behind off and really excited to see what he will do in a game.”

Even with the high expectations, Brunson knows none of the accomplishments will matter if the Wildcats fail to win the Big East in the regular season.


“It’s definitely an honor, but I have to prove to myself and not worry about the preseason hype, but to prove I am willing to play for the team,” Brunson said. “If I take care of the ball and play for my guys, everything else will take care of itself.”



2017-18 Big East Preseason Coaches' Poll:

                                Points

1) Villanova (8)        80

2) Seton Hall (1)       71

3) Xavier (1)             63

4) Providence           59

5) Creighton             48

6) St. John's              36

7) Marquette             34

8) Butler                   32

9) Georgetown         15

10) DePaul               12



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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

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