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The place does the UConn males’s basketball workforce match within the Massive East?

Whereas the Energy 5 conferences panic and fret about soccer, who’s coming and going, and why the heck USC and UCLA are within the Massive Ten, the Massive East can sit again and concern itself with its bread and butter: faculty basketball.

There’s nonetheless practically three months till Massive East Media Day, 4 months earlier than the school basketball season kicks off and about 5 months earlier than Massive East Convention play begins. Nevertheless it’s by no means too early round these components to try the 2022-23 Massive East males’s basketball convention.

1. CREIGHTON: The Bluejays will deservedly be a near-consensus top-5 preseason decide. Creighton brings again the Massive East’s reigning Defensive Participant of the Yr (Ryan Kalkbrenner) and Freshman of the Yr (Ryan Nembhard), its finest participant in Arthur Kaluma, and one of many nation’s finest portal pick-ups in South Dakota State’s Baylor Scheierman — the “Larry Hen of the Summit League.” And we have seen first-hand how good a coach Greg McDermott is.

However do not take our phrase for it. Take Dan Hurley’s: “Their freshmen performed nice on the finish of the yr, they return all these younger guys. Clearly, you possibly can by no means underestimate the worth of a man like (Ryan) Hawkins or (Alex) O’Connell – older, veteran guys who had been actually good two-way gamers. However with the younger guys, and the large addition with the switch that was fairly well-publicized what his choices had been there, I believe it is acquired an opportunity to be perhaps Greg’s finest workforce.”

Greatest Ryan: With Hawkins gone (although not earlier than teaming with RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin to win the 3×3 nationwide championship), we’ll take 7-footer Kalkbrenner, so dominant in opposition to UConn on March 3over level guard Nembhard, who was terrific earlier than a season-ending harm.

Key: Well being. Nembhard broke his wrist in late February and by no means returned, Kaluma missed vital time earlier within the season, Shareef Mitchell missed nearly the complete season, and Kalkbrenner needed to miss the slender, NCAA tourney second-round loss to eventual champion Kansas.

2-7: Take your decide. We’ll attempt to type it out, anyway.

2. XAVIER: We’re bullish on the Musketeers. Jack Nunge is one other 7-footer who killed UConn final yr, Colby Jones is a first-team all-Massive East candidate, and if Zach Freemantle can get again to his sophomore type … And say what you need about sketchy Sean Miller, who returns to the place he began as head coach in 2004, however he is a giant improve from Travis Steele, a nicer man, however not an excellent coach.

Nutmeg state: Xavier has run the gamut on Connecticut merchandise in recent times — Bloomfield’s Tyrique Jones (2016-20), all-Massive East as a senior, and walk-on Zach Swetye (2018-22) of Darienwho performed precisely 4 minutes his whole profession. Now comes New Haven’s Desmond Claudea 6-foot-5 level guard and four-star recruit out of Putnam Science Academy who may push for starter’s minutes.

Key: Freemantle averaged 16.1 factors two years in the past, suffered a preseason leg harm and by no means appeared to totally get better as his scoring common plummeted to 10.1 ppg. If he can return to type, be careful.

3. UCONN: Loads of questions right here. Can Jordan Hawkins and Andre Jackson step up as double-figure scorers? Can Tristan Newton make the transition from AAC to Massive East? How large an influence can freshmen Donovan Clingan and Alex Karaban have? Will the Huskies have sufficient perimeter capturing to open issues up for Adama Sanogothe probably preseason Massive East Participant of the Yr who is among the finest certainties the Huskies have.

Rather a lot to lose: Sure, the Huskies changed their 4 transfers with arguably a lot better expertise. However let’s not overlook they misplaced All-Massive East level guard RJ Cole, NBA draft decide (and All-Massive East snub!) Tyrese Martin, Isaiah Whaley and Tyler Polley to commencement. That is a variety of manufacturing.

Key: Hawkins has been in comparison with Ray Allen and James Bouknight. He does not should be both, nevertheless it’s clear the employees is relying on him to emerge as a go-to scorer. Stated Greg McDermott: “Jordan Hawkins was certainly one of my favourite younger gamers final yr. Sanogo inside, I believe, is a difference-maker on each ends of the ground. Danny does an amazing job. They are going to play bodily, robust, hard-nosed protection.”

4. VILLANOVA: The Wildcats have earned the fitting to be picked increased on pedigree alone, however sorry, there are large questions right here. The largest, in fact, is how they reply to the retirement of Corridor of Fame head coach Jay Wright and commencement of two-time Massive East Participant of the Yr level guard Collin Gillespie — each veterans of two nationwide championships and 21 seasons at ‘Nova (OK, the latter solely appeared that approach with Gillespie). Can former assistant Kyle Neptune hold the tradition going? How a lot can they get from Justin Moore, who tore his Achilles within the Elite Eight in opposition to Houston? Cam Whitmore could also be ‘Nova’s first lottery decide since Tim Thomas, and anybody on the JCC Traditional in Trumbull in April noticed how good Mark Armstrong ishowever how efficient can freshmen be in a person’s league just like the Massive East?

Hey, outdated good friend: Villanova is in the identical bracket as UConn in November’s PK85 Problem, and though they’re going to probably be positioned on reverse ends of the bracket, that also means the groups may face one another 3 times within the common season. 4 instances total in the event that they meet within the Massive East event. And 5 instances in the event that they meet within the Massive Dance.

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