Coaches pick Villanova to win Big East, Josh Hart as Player of the Year

The reigning national champions have been picked as the unanimous favorites to win the Big East. The conference held its media day on Tuesday, and in conjunction with that, released its preseason coaches poll and player awards.

Villanova was picked by every coach in the conference to win the league -- except one. Jay Wright. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams. Wright picked Xavier, which lands at second in the poll. This is the third straight season VU has been chosen as the Big East's best. It has won the league three consecutive seasons, finishing with a 16-2 mark in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The Wildcats also have the league's preseason player of the year, senior guard/forward Josh Hart. Hart averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and shot 51.3 percent last season. He was a guiding force in Villanova winning 35 games.

Jay Wright and Josh Hart have expectations Final Four-high for Villanova. USATSI

Here's the preseason Big East coaches poll.

1. Villanova (9) 81

2. Xavier (1) 69

3. Creighton 64

4. Georgetown 53

5. Seton Hall 53

6. Butler 44

7. Marquette 35

8. St. John's 21

9. Providence 18

10. DePaul 12

Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, Butler and Providence made last year's NCAA Tournament. If Nova wins the Big East this season, it will be the first time in conference history that a team finished alone atop the regular-season standings four consecutive times. Providence takes a big dip due to the loss of NBA picks Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Creighton makes a huge jump because Cole Huff, Marcus Foster and Mo Watson, Jr. are all expected to be among the best players in the conference.

Speaking of top players, here's the Big East's preseason First Team selectees.

Player of the Year

Josh Hart, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-5, 215, Silver Spring, Md.

Freshman of the Year

Shamorie Ponds, St. John's, G, Fr., 6-1, 165, Brooklyn, N.Y.

First Team

Kelan Martin, Butler, F, Jr., 6-7, 220, Louisville, Ky.

Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton, G, Sr., 5-10, 175, Philadelphia, Pa.

Kris Jenkins, Villanova, F, Sr., 6-6, 235, Upper Marlboro, Md.

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier, G, Jr., 6-6, 205, Indianapolis, Ind.

Edmond Sumner, Xavier, G, So., 6-6, 183, Detroit, Mich.

Jenkins is the man who hit the buzzer-beater in the national title game to give Villanova its first national championship in more than three decades. Martin will step in and be the deciding factor as to whether or not the Bulldogs can make a ninth NCAA Tournament in 11 seasons. Watson Bluiett and Sumner have both turned into NBA prospects and will be cogs to keeping Xavier among the 10 best teams in the country. The Musketeers set a program record last season when they earned a No. 2 seed.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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