The 2021-22 college basketball season begins in just one week, on Tuesday, November 9! Let’s take a quick look at the Big East Conference for this season. Villanova is the -150 favorite to win the Big East title as it usually does. Let’s take a look, for your odds on the NCAAB.
Analysis College Basketball Season 2021- 20211
Coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats finished 18-7 last season, losing in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Baylor 62-51. During one stretch in the decisive run, Baylor forced five straight turnovers on ‘Nova possessions. The Wildcats finished with 16 turnovers, almost double their nation-best season average (8.8). Wright’s team scored 10 points over the final 11 minutes.
Nova did play that Baylor game without star guard Collin Gillespie due to injury. He has been named the preseason Big East Player of the Year and first-team All-American for this season. Gillespie last year shared Big East Player of the Year honors with teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili. In all games, Gillespie averaged 14.0 points and 4.6 assists per game. His assist average ranked third in the Big East and he was first in assist/turnover ratio at 2.9. The Wildcat captain also ranked fifth in free throw shooting, making 83.3 percent. Gillespie is taking advantage of a fifth year of eligibility that was granted by the NCAA due to the effects of the pandemic last season.
The Preseason All-Big East second team has two members from Villanova: forward Jermaine Samuels and guard Justin Moore. Samuels, who will be playing his fifth season, is an all-around contributor whose 12.0 scoring average and 6.4 rebounding mark belies his value to the Wildcats. He is on the preseason Watch List for the 2022 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. Moore emerged as a threat in the backcourt, averaging 12.9 points and 3.0 assists.
Connecticut is the +450 second-favorite to win the Big East title and was picked to finish second by the league coaches. UConn grad student guard R.J. Cole and senior guard Tyrese Martin were named to the Big East Preseason Second Team.
Cole is the Huskies’ leading returning scorer (12.2) and led the team last season in assists (4.3), three-point field goal percentage (.386), assist-to-turnover ratio (2.48), steals (1.2) and minutes played (714). Martin was UConn’s top rebounder last season (7.5) and led the conference in offensive rebounding (3.0), in addition to averaging double figures (10.3).
With nine scholarship players returning from last year’s 15-8 team that made UConn’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years, plus the addition of four talented newcomers, the Huskies are ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25. The last time UConn was ranked in the AP Preseason Poll was in 2016-17, when it was ranked No. 18, but did not appear in the poll during the regular season. The Huskies cracked the Top 25 last season, reaching No. 25 on Jan. 11 and No. 23 on Jan. 18. It was the first time UConn was ranked during the regular season 2015-16.
At +800, Xavier rounds out the favorites and the Musketeers were picked to finish third by the coaches. Head coach Travis Steele welcomes back each of his top seven scorers from last season, including Zach Freemantle and Paul Scruggs. Freemantle led XU in scoring at 16.1 ppg., which ranked fifth in the BIG EAST, and led the entire league in rebounding at 8.9 rpg. Scruggs led the Big East and was 20th in the nation in assists at 5.7 apg., while ranking second on the team and 11th in the Big East in scoring at 14.0 ppg.
Steele also welcomes back 2021 Big East All-Freshman Team selection Colby Jones and senior Nate Johnson, one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters who missed the home stretch last season due to injury.
Georgetown’s s Aminu Mohammed was named the Big East Preseason Freshman of the Year. Mohammed, considered one of the top prep recruits in the nation, was named the 2021 Gatorade Missouri Player of the Year. The guard averaged 23.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game during his senior season, leading the Blue Jays (20-6) to the Class 3 state quarterfinals. Mohammed also recorded 3.1 assists and 2.7 steals per game while connecting on 51.7 percent of his field-goal attempts.
- Villanova wins the conference title