Early Big East power rankings: Villanova and Xavier still leading the way

Now that college basketball is nuzzling into the middle of its offseason, we're addressing what has happened in the seven major conferences since early April. We started with the American on Monday, then hit the ACC on Tuesday. On Wednesday, our Big 12 catchup post. Here, we look up and down at the Big East. 

Get ready for another big season from the Big East. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament last season, including Villanova Wildcats as a No. 1 seed and Butler Bulldogs making the Sweet 16. Getting seven into 2018's Big Dance will be tough, but six seems likely. Let's look at what's changed since the end of the season.   

Biggest names returning

  • Jalen Brunson , Villanova
  • Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin , Butler
  • Marcus Foster , Creighton Bluejays
  • Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington , Seton Hall Pirates
  • Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock , Providence Friars
  • Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura, Xavier Musketeers
  • Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett , St. John's

Brunson has an outside shot at national player of the year, Martin remains solid yet unsung at Butler, Foster probably will average 20-plus, Delgado has double-double potential every game and Blueitt looks like an All-American. 

Impact players leaving

  • Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins , Villanova
  • Andrew Chrabasz, Butler
  • Justin Patton and Maurice Watson Jr. , Creighton
  • JaJuan Johnson and Luke Fischer , Marquette Golden Eagles
  • Edmond Sumner , Xavier
  • L.J. Peak, Georgetown Hoyas
  • Billy Garrett Jr. , DePaul Blue Demons

Coaching changes 

Patrick Ewing, Georgetown: Georgetown raised eyebrows upon firing John Thompson III. With Ewing, the John Thompson Jr. influence continues. But there are skeptics because Ewing has yet to make real strides in recruiting and this is his first foray into college coaching. If it doesn't work, this could be the Hoyas' final go-round with anyone connected to Big John. 

Three biggest Big East offseason headlines

  1. Butler loses Chris Holtmann to Ohio State, hires LaVall Jordan: Greg McDermott, Chris Mack and Ed Cooley -- all Big East coaches -- also were at least rumored candidates at Ohio State. McDermott even met with AD Gene Smith, but Holtmann got the gig. Butler went to the NCAA Tournament in Holtmann's three seasons. So Jordan, who played at Butler, has sizable shoes to fill and he recently talked to us about it
  2. Xavier, Seton Hall boosted by big draft decisions: Delgado (Seton Hall) and Blueitt (Xavier) put their names in the 2017 NBA Draft pool, but wound up returning to school. Consequently, they have a shot at Big East Player of the Year, All-America consideration, NCAA Tournament success and improved draft stock -- and their schools are top-25 caliber, thanks to those decisions. 
  3. DePaul lands biggest recruiting win in a generation: Look at DePaul! The Blue Demons got a pledge from Tyger Campbell, a five-star recruit in the class of 2018. The last time DePaul had a player ranked this highly by the recruiting services: 2004. DePaul also got Marin Maric , a grad transfer from Northern Illinois.
angeldelgadoshu17.jpg
Angel Delgado had 27 double-doubles last season and led the nation in offensive rebounding. USATSI

Big East offseason power rankings

Villanova: Jalen Brunson will guide the Wildcats to another really good season. Omari Spellman enters the lineup and Mikal Bridges is poised for a breakout season. 

Xavier: Blueitt may well battle with Brunson for league POY, but Macura is someone to watch, too. Chris Mack is coming off an Elite Eight appearance, and Xavier should make its fifth straight Big Dance.

Providence: The Friars were expected to take a step back last season but still made the NCAAs. With most of the roster back, Ed Cooley's team -- fueled by Cartwright and Bullock -- should have 20 wins by Selection Sunday. 

Seton Hall: Another team with a lot of returning talent -- Delgado, Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Myls Powell -- the Pirates are a great dark horse pick to win this conference. 

Butler: Losing Holtmann also meant losing Kyle Young, the highest-rated recruit in the class of 2017. The Bulldogs still have a highly competitive roster, giving Jordan a lot to work with.  

Creighton: Foster has the potential to lead the nation in scoring and the Bluejays get a boost from guard Kaleb Joseph , who transferred from Syracuse. Had Patton not gone to the NBA, Creighton would be in the top three. 

St. John's: The Johnnies -- who will be led by LoVett and Ponds -- look like they're a year away, but they're going to be a lot of fun. 

Marquette: Lots of pieces are gone from a 19-13 team, but the Golden Eagles still have PG Markus Howard . He made 55 percent of his 150 3-pointers last season to lead the nation in percentage beyond the arc. 

DePaul: The bottom of is league will be better, evidenced by the Blue Demons ninth, who could win 15 games. 

Georgetown: The Hoyas lost most everyone of serious impact ( Jessie Govan could be pretty good, though). It's going to be a tough season for Ewing, who needs playmakers.  

CBS Sports Writer

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

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