The Blue Demons are coming off a Sweet 16 appearance and return three starters from a team that averaged the sixth most points per game in the nation. Despite losing Big East Player of the Year Chanise Jenkins to graduation, DePaul will look to Second Team All-Conference and NCAA All-Regional pick senior guard Jessica January to fill the void. Look for the Blue Demons to continue their streak of 14 straight trips to the NCAA tournament.
The Blue Jays look to have a strong team as they return 13 of their 14 players who made a run to last year’s Big East title. Picked to win the conference by Big East coaches at media day, the Blue Jays will turn to senior guards Marissa Janning, the 2014 Big East Player of the Year and MC McGrory, both All-Big East Preseason selections in order to lead them to another successful season.
The Wildcats again look to their stingy defense to lead them to another successful season, just a year after landing a two-seed in the conference tournament, their highest such seed since 1995. Villanova will turn to young talent like sophomore guard Adrianna Hahn and highly-touted freshman guard Kelly Jekot. Hahn is the defending Big East Sixth Woman of the Year, and Jekot is the reigning Pennsylvania high school player of the year.
The Golden Eagles have the potential to dominate the Big East. A year after sporting the youngest roster in the country, Marquette returns its entire team. Five players were in the league’s top-25 scorers, and the team as a whole finished second in points per game. The Golden Eagles will need to improve on defense, however, if they want to qualify for the NCAA tournament, as last year’s team ranked 339th of 344 Division I teams in scoring defense.
Look for another promising season from the Hoyas as they return from their first winning campaign since 2011. The Hoyas look to rely heavily upon their young star guards — sophomore Dionna White, an all-Freshman Team selection, and junior Dorothy Adamako, a Second Team all-Big East selection. Georgetown adds scoring and size this year to a team that was already second in the conference in rebounding margin.
6. St. John’s
Despite losing their two top players, the Red Storm will look to its depth to wear its opponents down. St. John’s will again turn to its defense, which was second in the conference in scoring defense last season. Returning seniors Aaliyah Lewis, a guard, and Jade Walker, a forward, need to step up and lead the starless team if the Red Storm has any hope of returning to the tournament for its fifth straight year.
7. Seton Hall
Despite reaching the NCAA tournament for its second straight year, the Pirates have a huge void to fill this year as they need to replace four starters that were lost to graduation. Look for senior center Lubirdia Gordon to step up as a force under the basket and as a feared shot blocker. The Pirates also anticipate the play of redshirt junior guard JaQuan Jackson from Louisiana Tech, a 2014 Conference USA All-Rookie Team selection.
The Bulldogs return last year’s preseason Freshman of the Year selection Brittney Ward and junior guard Sydney Buck who started all 31 games last year. Butler will again rely on its great team defense that finished near the top of the league in almost all statistical categories. The offense, however, will need to improve following a season in which they finished last or second to last in every major statistical category.
The Musketeers only return two starters from a team that finished 17-13 last season. Redshirt junior guard Raeshaun Gaffney will carry the load, as she comes off a year in which she led the team in both scoring and rebounding. The Musketeers will need to pass the ball better if they have hopes of improving. Last season they were last in the conference in assists.
The Friars will look for anything positive as a sign of success following another poor performance last season. The Friars have not had a winning season since 2009. This May, Jim Crowley, a successful coach at St. Bonaventure, was named the new head coach. The Friars return one of the league’s best shot blockers in sophomore forward Erica Meyer and a serious three-point threat in sophomore guard Clara Che.