Big East Basketball: Preseason power rankings for 2021-22 season

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Big East Basketball Javon Freeman-Liberty DePaul Blue Demons (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The college basketball season is almost upon us which means it’s time for preseason conference rankings, including Big East Basketball. This is my first ever attempt, but feel free to tell me how wrong I am and how biased I am against your team.

I’ll start off by saying that I see the Big East having four tiers of teams. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying Villanova stands alone in tier 1. The middle of the Big East is nearly always impossible to pick, with little separation between teams. I see two middle tiers: tier 2 (ranked 2-6, possible NCAA tournament teams) and tier 3 (ranked 7-10).

Can you guess who stands alone in tier 4? We can revisit these rankings at the end of the season to see how I did, but for now, this is how I see the conference possibly playing out.

11. DePaul Blue Demons

2020-2012 Record: 5-14 (2-13)

Probable Starters: Jalen Terry, Javon Freeman-Liberty, Tyon Grant-Foster, Brandon Johnson, Yor Anei

Bench: David Jones, Nick Ongenda, Ahamad Bynum, Courvoisier McCauley, Philmon Gebrewhit, Saheed Medlock, Brendan Favre, Max Williams

DePaul stands in “tier 4” alone at least for this season, but hopefully not for long.

The Tony Stubblefield era begins at DePaul, but everyone will need to hold off a couple years before passing judgement. DePaul has struggled to win in the Big East and that might not get any easier this year. The Blue Demons return 33.7% of their minutes from last season and just four players. Javon Freeman-Liberty and Courvoisier McCauley are two returning guards along with forward David Jones and center Nick Ongenda.

Stubblefield has brought in some solid pieces, including Jalen Terry who followed him from Oregon. Terry was a finalist for Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan before committing to Oregon, where he played his freshman season. He was a top-60 recruit and should serve a nice piece for the Blue Demons backcourt alongside Javon Freeman-Liberty, who averaged 14.4 PPG for DePaul last season.

Stubblefield also brings in transfers Tyon Grant-Foster, Brandon Johnson, and Yor Anei as well as top-100 recruit Ahamad Bynum. Grant-Foster moved on from Kansas but saw little action there and Yor Anei will provide some depth to the front court after a respectable 3-year career at Oklahoma State (7.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.3 BPG). He may even end up being the starting center over Ongenda.

The biggest acquisition on the transfer market though is Johnson, a 6’8” forward. In his final season at Western Michigan, Johnson put up 15.4 PPG and 8.1 RPG. He then transferred to Minnesota and put up 8.9 PPG and 6.3 RPG. If the Blue Demons are to compete at all this season, it will fall on the shoulders of Freeman-Liberty and Johnson to play their best each night. That’s a lot to ask.

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