One thing is certain about women’s basketball in the Big East: It is much more competitive than the American Athletic Conference. While the Big East doesn’t have another powerhouse team like UConn, they do have two teams - Marquette and DePaul - who made appearances in the top 25 this season.
On an RPI basis, the Big East is miles ahead of the AAC. In 2018-19 the average RPI across all Big East teams was 82. In the AAC (excluding UConn) it was 146. Additionally, the seven of the Big East’s ten teams ranked in top 100 for RPI; the AAC had just two teams in the top 100.
Of the Big East teams, DePaul and Marquette have the strongest women’s basketball programs in recent years. The last three conference tournaments have been headlined by these two in the finals, meeting as the top seeded teams (with the exception of 2017 where Marquette was the #3 seed). They’ve combined for five of six regular season and conference tournament titles since UConn moved to the AAC in 2013. The most outstanding player in five of those seasons has come from DePaul or Marquette as well.
The Huskies have played DePaul as part of their non-conference schedule in every season since 2014-15. DePaul coach Doug Bruno is a personal friend of Coach Auriemma’s, and the Blue Demons always give the Huskies a good game, despite UConn owning a lopsided 16-0 head-to-head record.
DePaul’s style of basketball is fast paced — they like to get out in transition, push the ball up and down the court, and take a lot of shots. Last season, they ranked in the top 10 percent of the country for possessions per 40 minutes and averaged over 81 points per game.
DePaul has been on the national radar for a while, appearing in the AP top 25 poll every season since 2003. They’ve also qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of those years, and reached four Sweet Sixteens.
Marquette, on the other hand, is newer to the national scene. It has made the last three NCAA tournaments and this past season, it was a five seed. They also appeared in every top 25 poll, topping out at the eighth spot. Marquette had one of the best offensive ratings in the country in 2018-19, scoring 111.3 points per 100 possessions.
Other contenders in the Big East include Villanova, who have picked up at least 11 conference wins in each of the last four seasons. Creighton and St. John’s have also made reoccurring appearances among the top teams in the league.