The Big East only sent four teams to the 2019 NCAA Tournament — only three remained after the First Four, just one survived the first round and no one made it past the first weekend.
Overall, it wasn’t a banner year for the Big East as a whole.
Here are Stadium’s postseason grades for every team in the Big East, which take into account the preseason coaches’ poll, 2018 recruiting class rankings, conference and NCAA Tournament finishes and recent program trajectories.
The teams are listed alphabetically below.
For the first time since 2014, Butler missed the NCAA Tournament in 2019. The Bulldogs finished in a three-way tie for eighth, which meant last place in the conference, after being picked to finish in fifth.
Butler even received one first-place vote in the preseason coaches’ poll.
The Bulldogs went 16-17 with the eighth-most efficient offense and defense in Big East play. They beat a few NCAA Tournament teams in Ole Miss, Florida and UC Irvine amid their 9-4 non-conference slate and their best win in Big East play was against Creighton, Xavier, Seton Hall or St. John’s, depending on which mid-level conference team you valued the most last season.
Butler’s stay in both the Big East Tournament and the NIT lasted just one game.
Creighton was picked to finish ninth in the preseason coaches’ poll and it finished tied for third with a 9-9 conference record, ultimately earning the No. 5 seed in the Big East Tournament. Thanks to a five-game winning streak to end the season, which included a road win at Marquette, the Bluejays entered the NCAA Tournament bubble conversation, but a loss to Xavier ended their hopes of reaching the Big Dance.
They lost to four of their five best non-conference opponents and had two different four-game losing streaks in Big East play, so Creighton’s season was far from glamorous. But despite losing its two best players from 2018, the Bluejays had a better-than-expected finish in a down year for the Big East.
The Blue Demons won seven conference games last season.
They won nine in the previous three seasons combined, so it was a positive season for DePaul.
It was picked to finish in last place in the preseason coaches’ poll and it finished in a three-way tie for eighth, so while it technically finished in last place, it bridged a significant portion of the gap – at least for a season – to the middle of the pack.
DePaul had the third-most efficient offense in conference play, thanks to the senior trio of Max Strus, Femi Olujobi and Eli Cain, and it ranked first in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
The Blue Demons’ 19 wins were the program’s most since 2007. They ultimately lost to South Florida in the best-of-three finals of the CBI.
The Hoyas were picked to finish seventh in the preseason coaches’ poll and they wound up in a four-way tie for third, earning the No. 6 seed in the Big East Tournament. An NCAA Tournament berth eluded Georgetown, which had three Quadrant 3 losses that definitely weighed down its resume.
The Hoyas got a No. 3 seed in the NIT and lost at home to Harvard in the first round.
A road win at Marquette in their regular season finale that kept the Golden Eagles from sharing the Big East regular season title may have been the highlight of Georgetown’s season, which included a 10-3 record against a soft non-conference schedule. The Hoyas also beat Villanova at home.
Senior center Jessie Govan was named a First Team All-Big East selection and the Hoyas’ trio of Big East Freshman of the Year James Akinjo, Josh LeBlanc and Mac McClung were named to the conference’s all-freshman team.
The Golden Eagles started the season outside the AP Top 25, which is where they finished, too.
Marquette was picked to finish second in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll behind Villanova, and it finished one game behind the ‘Cats. But the Golden Eagles absolutely had a chance to win an outright regular season conference title before losing their final four regular season games, two of which were home losses to teams that missed the NCAA Tournament (Creighton and Georgetown).
They lost to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament in a game that was marred by the officiating (56 total fouls, including nine technicals, and seven players who were disqualified because of fouling out or being ejected) and dust-ups between the two teams. Then Marquette was embarrassed by Ja Morant and Murray State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to the tune of an 83-64 loss in which Morant recorded a triple-double.
While Marquette’s final month of the season was incredibly disappointing (especially considering that we now know that brothers Sam and Joey Hauser will transfer), the Golden Eagles had a productive season.
They beat Louisville, Kansas State and Wisconsin during non-conference play, contended for a conference title, junior guard Markus Howard was a consensus Second Team All-American and they earned their best seed in the tournament since 2013.
Yes, Marquette left some on the table in 2019, but it was a still a quality college basketball team.
Providence fell short of its preseason coaches’ poll projection of third in the conference as the Friars were tied with Butler and DePaul for eighth place in the conference. Given how chaotic the Big East was in 2019, that meant they were only two games out of third place, but their 18-16 record resulted in Providence missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
Providence Coach Ed Cooley enrolled the nation’s No. 21 recruiting class in 2018, headlined by top-50 recruits David Duke and A.J. Reeves, but they were the team’s fifth and third-leading scorers, respectively.
A light non-conference schedule left few opportunities for quality wins, and the Friars lost to Michigan and Wichita State (plus a bad loss to UMass), while five of Providence’s eight wins in Big East regular season or postseason play were against Butler or St. John’s.
The Pirates ranked 266th nationally in minutes continuity last season after losing four key seniors, including their three highest-usage players, from their 2018 team. So Seton Hall was only picked to finish eighth in the 10-team Big East, according to the preseason coaches’ poll.
But the Pirates finished in a four-way tie for third, earning the No. 3 seed in the Big East Tournament and a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
They lost to No. 7 seed Wofford in the first round, but their season as a whole was a good one.
A non-conference win over Kentucky, which could’ve been the difference between which side of the bubble Seton Hall fell on Selection Sunday, a Big East Championship appearance and an NCAA Tournament berth were the high points.
Junior guard Myles Powell was a unanimous First Team All-Big East selection, putting the cherry on top for a program that has achieved a level of consistency that it hadn’t seen since the early 1990s.
The Red Storm was picked to finish fourth in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll and they finished seventh, barely making the NCAA Tournament as one of the teams sent to Dayton for the First Four.
That’s where their season ended after a loss to fellow No. 11 seed Arizona State.
St. John’s went 3-1 against Villanova and Marquette in the regular season, which is the reason why it made the NCAA Tournament, but it lacked many impressive wins beyond those three. The Red Storm had one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the country, so their 12-0 start was less impressive than it might appear at face value. A roster headlined by Shamorie Ponds, Justin Simon and Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron was ranked near 100th in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.
Coach Chris Mullin resigned after the season, marking the end of his four-year tenure at his alma mater that saw St. John’s go 59-73 (20-52 Big East) with one NCAA Tournament appearance.
Mullin was an all-time St. John’s great as a player, but the same can’t be said for his job on the sidelines.
The Wildcats swept the Big East regular season and tournament titles for the third time since the Big East realigned to its current 10-team format. So ‘Nova lived up to the Big East preseason coaches’ poll that picked the reigning national champs to win the conference, even if they backed into their regular season title after Marquette lost its final four games of the regular season.
But the most recent Villanova team was clearly inferior to the previous five and its preseason No. 9 ranking in the AP Poll proved to be ambitious by the voters. After losing their top four scorers from its 2018 national championship team, it was a reloading year for the Wildcats, who were led by fifth-year seniors Phil Booth and Eric Paschall.
They enrolled the nation’s No. 9 recruiting class in 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, which was headlined by five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly, but, ironically, only three-star forward Saddiq Bey (No. 138 nationally) carved out a significant role among the four scholarship freshmen.
Quinerly ultimately decided to transfer after the season.
Villanova’s win total (26), NCAA Tournament seed (No. 6 seed) and final kenpom.com ranking (No. 30) were the program’s worst since 2013. But that speaks to how high Coach Jay Wright and players like Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart set the bar at Villanova in recent years.
The Wildcats ran into the buzzsaw that was Purdue and Carsen Edwards in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, so while Villanova’s exit from the latest tournament was much earlier than the previous one, there’s no shame in the season they had in 2019.
The Musketeers went from being in sole possession of last place in the Big East and two games under .500 to earning the No. 4 seed in the Big East Tournament a month later.
The first year of the Travis Steele era had some growing pains – a seventh-place finish at the Maui Invitational, a 15-point loss to crosstown rival Cincinnati, another 15-point loss to a bad Missouri team and a six-game losing streak in the heart of Big East play – but Xavier recovered to briefly enter the bubble conversation as it took Villanova to overtime in the Big East Tournament semifinals.
With a 19-16 record, last season was Xavier’s worst since 2013, but the team the Musketeers became in March provides hope for the future. Especially if their four players who declared for the NBA Draft – Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones – return to school.