College basketball returns this weekend, and the race to be the best in the Big East is back on.
After seeing No. 3 seed Seton Hall defeat eventual NCAA Tournament champion Villanova in last year’s conference final, fans await to see how the results will play out throughout the season. The conference boasts four schools who will enter the season in the top 50 of the RPI rankings.
Check out amNewYork’s Big East power rankings for 2016-17:
Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart return to help the Wildcats reach the pinnacle again. They are favored to be the first back-to-back NCAA champs since Florida in 2006 and 2007.
The bold backcourt the Bluejays assembled with Maurice Watson Jr. and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will push this team to new heights under Coach Greg McDermott.
Despite key losses of Jalen Reynolds and James Farr in the backcourt, the Musketeers can bank on Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner to lead the offense this season.
4. Seton Hall
The reigning Big East Tournament champs have a lot of ground to make up after Isaiah Whitehead was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets. But with four returning starters, the Pirates have the tools to make a second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The Hoyas finished eighth in the conference last season, but critical additions of Rodney Pryor and Jagan Mosely will improve their perimeter shooting and boost them to a winning season after their first losing record in 11 years.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 22-win season and look to reach that level again. For Coach Chris Holtmann’s squad, it is no impossible feat with leadership from preseason all-conference second team selection Kelan Martin.
With just two seniors on the team, the Golden Eagles look to recuperate after losing Henry Ellenson to the NBA. This team will rely on a young squad, headlined by their backcourt, under leadership from the head coach Steve Wojciechowski.
8. St. John’s
Sharpshooting Federico Mussini returns to the Johnnies to help this young team fight in a tough conference. Chris Mullin must introduce a new game plan if the team expects better results.
Although the Friars lost only 11 games and made it to the semis in the conference tournament, the losses of Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn will bring new challenges to Ed Cooley’s roster.
The Blue Demons will be excited to play in their new home this season in Chicago, but the team has a lot of work to do to improve on last season’s horrid 9-22 season. Coach Dave Leitao will look to his newcomers for strength.