TODAY'S PAPER

Big East basketball field still chasing Villanova entering 2017-18 season

Villanova's Jalen Brunson was named AP preseason All-America on Monday. / Getty Images / Stacy Revere

The Big East sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2017. That will be attainable again during the 2017-18 season, but don’t overlook the battles at the top of the conference. Villanova has multiple threats coming for its running title defense that should make for an entertaining winter.

Here’s a look at each school, listed in order of Big East preseason coaches’ poll ranking.

Villanova

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The Wildcats are looking for their fifth consecutive regular season title in a crowded field. Jalen Brunson leads from the point, Phil Booth returns from injury and heralded recruit Omari Spellman makes his debut after sitting out a year.

Seton Hall

The Pirates have a prime opportunity to seize the conference crown with 6-10 center Angel Delgado returning for his senior season. He’ll team with fellow seniors Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez.

Xavier

The Musketeers went the deepest last March, cruising to the Elite Eight. Trevon Bluiett can be a force after putting up 18.5 points and 5.7 rebounds last season. He’ll pair with J.P. Macura in the backcourt.

Providence

All signs point to another NCAA appearance for the Friars. Rodney Bullock leads a returning starting five after averaging 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a year ago.

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Creighton

Marcus Foster is back after a knee injury ended his season and derailed a stellar year for the Bluejays. The road this year will be a little more difficult, but key pieces such as two-way threat Khyri Thomas are back.

St. John’s

Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett lead an improved Red Storm that could find their way to the tournament bubble come March.

Marquette

The Golden Eagles are looking for back-to-back tournament berths. Markus Howard can score, but others on this young team must step up.

Butler

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LaVall Jordan steps up from assistant to head coach, and he’ll have some familiar faces leading the charge. Kelan Martin returns after leading the Bulldogs with 16 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Georgetown

First-year coach Patrick Ewing will get a pass as he begins retooling the Hoyas’ program.

DePaul

The Blue Demons are a work in progress with a brand-new arena and four returning starters, led by Eli Cain (15.6 ppg).