Big East Basketball: 11 dark-horse candidates for 2019-20 Player of the Year

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JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – MARCH 21: Myles Powell #13 of the Seton Hall Pirates reacts in the second half against the Wofford Terriers during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Markus Howard and Myles Powell are the runaway favorites for the 2019-20 Big East Basketball Player of the Year award. But is there a case to be made for anyone else to grab the crown?

The 2019-20 Big East Basketball Player of the Year race, between Marquette’s Markus Howard and Seton Hall’s Myles Powell, has a chance to be one of college basketball’s central talking points all year long.

Last season, Howard (25/4/4) held Powell (23/4/3) at arm’s length all season en route to the conference POY trophy. This year, though, the two are neck-and-neck as they enter the season with towering expectations.

Further fanning the flames is the fiery undercurrent that has existed between Seton Hall and Marquette since Powell and Howard joined the rivalry in 2016-17. The Pirates and Golden Eagles have played each other eight times in the past three years, splitting the series 4-4. Seven of the eight games were decided by single digits, with the latest edition – an ejection-marred, whistle-infested Seton Hall 81-79 victory in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament – closer resembling a hellfire than a basketball game.

So while the top of the Big East ticket figures to be thrilling, there is a distinct lack of attention on the conference’s remaining POY candidates. To be frank, it’s going to take a relatively disastrous season from Howard and Powell for a third player to even have a chance at the award. If they put together disappointing shooting seasons, their teams slip into the NIT, or – knock on wood – the injury bug strikes, then the door could open for the rest of the conference. Because if either guard is averaging 25 ppg for a top-four Big East team that is in line for a single-digit NCAA tournament seed, then the rest of the league can likely say good night.

But let’s say Howard and Powell do take a step backward under the weight of immense pressure. Here is the road map for 11 other Big East stars capable of filling that void and stealing the Big East Player of the Year award.

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