Any discussion about the 2017-18 basketball season has to begin with the Big East. America’s most competitive conference sent seven teams to the Big Dance last year and features plenty of players and storylines worth following in the months ahead.
Big names like Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson, Xavier sharpshooter Trevon Bluiett, and super-sized Seton Hall center Angel Delgado are all returning, and NBA scouts will be monitoring the development of Villanova big-man Omari Spellman, a can’t-miss prospect with ridiculous upside.
The conference also features loads of star power among the coaching ranks with Jay Wright at Villanova, and Hall of Famer Chris Mullin at St. John’s. Patrick Ewing will also patrol the sidelines of his alma mater this fall after signing a lucrative deal to replace John Thompson III at Georgetown.
The college basketball season doesn’t tip off until November 10th, but we already have the odds on which players, coaches, and teams are primed for breakout years in the Big East. Hungry for more hoops? For more info, check out our Final Four picks and Full March Madness 2018 odds.
2018-18 BIG EAST ODDS & PROPS
Early odds to win the Big East
- Villanova Wildcats: 7/3
- Xavier Musketeers: 9/2
- Seton Hall Pirates: 7/1
- Butler Bulldogs: 9/1
- Providence Friars: 11/1
- Creighton Bluejays: 15/1
- St John’s Red Storm: 20/1
- Marquette Golden Eagles: 25/1
- DePaul Blue Demons: 30/1
- Georgetown Hoyas: 50/1
The Big East is shaping up to be Villanova and everyone else, once again. The Wildcats, who have won the regular-season title every year since the conference was reconvened in 2013, are the prohibitive favorites. They have a veteran roster loaded with returning players. Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Phil Booth are all back, and Omari Spellman is ready for his long-awaited debut after being ruled ineligible last season. The schedule won’t be easy, but Jay Wright’s squad has the depth and experience needed to crush the competition.
It’s unlikely that Villanova will stumble, but if they do, Xavier will be there to pounce. The Musketeers busted a lot of brackets by reaching the Elite Eight last season and will have plenty of firepower thanks to the return of 6’6” senior Trevon Bluiett. The sharp-shooting guard averaged 18.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last year and likely could have been a first-round selection had he declared for the NBA draft. His presence is just one reason why Xavier should improve upon last year’s 24-14 record.
Don’t sleep on Seton Hall. The Pirates are coming off back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament and will run out a line-up featuring their top four scorers from a year ago. Opposing teams will have their hands especially full trying to keep Angel Delgado off the boards. The 6’10”, 240-pound senior averaged 13.1 rebounds last season and is an absolute beast in the paint.
Over/under Villanova’s win total: 30.5
It may be asking too much for Villanova to replicate last year’s stellar 32-4 record in light of the departures of Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins. However, the roster is still stacked from top to bottom and it’s a safe bet that Jay Wright will have his team prepared to play 40 minutes of focused ball night in and night out. The two-time Naismith College Coach of the Year has a lifetime .674 winning percentage and has led his teams to the NCAA Tournament 14 times over the past 23 years.
Over/under Big East teams in the 2018 NCAA tournament: 5.5
There’s still plenty of talent remaining in the Big East, but don’t expect the conference to send as many teams to the Big Dance as it did in 2016-17. This will likely be a down year for Georgetown, DePaul, and Marquette, and St. John’s has yet to prove it belongs with the big boys.
Odds to be “one-and-done”
- Omari Spellman (Villanova): 3/1
- Mitchell Ballock (Creighton): 9/2
- Makai Ashton-Langford (Providence): 8/1
- Jamal Cain (Marquette): 18/1
- Paul Scruggs (Xavier): 23/1
- Sidney Wilson (St. John’s) 27/1
- FIELD: 17/8
NBA general managers are already clearing a spot on their rosters for Villanova’s Omari Spellman. The 6’9”, 275-pounder sat out all of 2016-17 due to academic issues, but he hit the books hard and is ready to return to the court. The Ohio native was a five-star recruit out of St. Thomas More in Connecticut, and should step in seamlessly for graduated senior Darryl Reynolds.
NBA scouts will be keeping close tabs on Creighton’s Mitchell Ballock, as well. The crafty 6’4” shooting guard was the Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year after averaging 25.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. Bluejays coach Greg McDermott loves his range and basketball IQ and has high expectations for the Eudora, Kansas product.
Rounding out our list is Makai Ashton-Langford. The 6’2” point guard originally signed with UConn before changing course and committing to Providence following the departure of Huskies associate head coach Glenn Miller. His slick handle and heady playmaking should be on full display this season for the Friars.
First coach fired
- Chris Mullin (St. John’s): 5/2
- Dave Leitao (DePaul): 9/2
- Steve Wojciechowski (Marquette): 6/1
- Ed Cooley (Providence): 8/1
- Greg McDermott (Creighton): 9/1
- Kevin Willard (Seton Hall): 15/1
- Chris Mack (Xavier): 19/1
- LaVall Jordan (Butler): 25/1
- Patrick Ewing (Georgetown): 99/1
- Jay Wright (Villanova): 100/1
St. John’s alumni were justifiably excited when the school hired Chris Mullin as head coach in 2015. After all, the Brooklyn native had starred at the school during the early 1980s before going onto a successful 16-year career in the NBA. Unfortunately, Mullin hasn’t given them much to cheer about since. The Red Storm are just 8-28 in the Big East and 22-43 overall since Mullin took over. It’s time for him to put up or shut up as he enters his third season on the bench.
Dave Leitao will also find his seat hot when the 2017-18 season kicks off. The DePaul coach is just 35-49 in the Big East and 76-79 overall since taking over the Blue Demons. This is his second stint with the school, but he has yet to deliver on the promise he showed when he was hired in 2002.
Over/under wins for Patrick Ewing in first season at Georgetown: 16.5
Patrick Ewing won the press conference when he was named head coach of his alma mater back in April. Now comes the hard part: winning actual games. The 11-time NBA All-Star was a respected assistant in the Association, but college basketball is a different beast and he’s inheriting a mediocre team that went 5-13 last season in Big East play. Expect a slight uptick this year thanks to a soft schedule.
Big East Player of the Year odds
- Jalen Brunson (Villanova): 4/1
- Mikal Bridges (Villanova): 6/1
- Angel Delgado (Seton Hall): 8/1
- Trevon Bluiett (Xavier): 9/1
- Marcus Foster (Creighton): 20/1
- Kelan Martin (Butler): 25/1
- Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall): 30/1
- FIELD: 2/1
The Big East is loaded with upperclassmen, but none are better than Jalen Brunson. The Villanova junior averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists a year ago, and should have the ball in his hands even more in 2017-18 with the departures of Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins. The 6’2” guard is a highly physical player who can break you down with the dribble or spot up beyond the arc. His game may not translate to the NBA, but it’s perfectly suited for college ball.
Brunson’s stiffest competition for Big East Player of the Year honors could be teammate Mikal Bridges. The 6’7” junior averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game last season after filling in for injured starter Phil Booth. Bridges’ emerging offensive game is a big plus for the Wildcats, but it’s his defense that makes him truly exceptional. The Malvern, Pennsylvania native was a Big East Defensive Player of the Year finalist in 2016-17 and his active hands and ridiculous 7’0” wingspan make him a nightmare for opposing forwards.
Last, but certainly not least, is Angel Delgado, a walking double-double who averaged 15.2 points and 13.1 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall. The Dominican center was an AP All-American Honorable Mention a year ago and requires a small committee just to move out of the lane.