With the 2023-24 men’s basketball season just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at UConn’s competition around the Big East. To get things started, we begin with the projected bottom of the conference as voted on by the league's coaches in the 2023-24 Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Head Coach: Ed Cooley (first season)
2022-23 Record: 7-25 (2-18 Big East)
Final 2022-23 KenPom.com Ranking: No. 219
2023-24 KenPom Ranking: No. 159
2022-23 in review
The Hoyas bottomed out last year. After losing 21 straight to end 2021-22, Patrick Ewing got one more chance to right the ship at Georgetown. He lost to American at home and underwent a 2-18 Big East season, though the games against UConn, including a six-point loss at Capital One Arena in early February, might have been closer than Dan Hurley and crew might have liked. Ewing got fired following a blow-out loss to Villanova in the Big East Tournament and Georgetown was able to pry Ed Cooley away from Providence in what was an interesting week online, to say the least.
Cooley’s Hoyas were picked eighth in the Big East by the coaches, but are last in the league according to KenPom and the only sub-150 school. There are only two true freshmen on the roster, headlined by four-star Drew Fielder, who Cooley brought with him from Providence. He also has redshirt freshman Rowan Brumbaugh, who was at Texas last year and was a consensus top-100 recruit in high school. Of the 15 players on the roster, 11 are transfers.
Jay Heath is the only significant player that remains from last year’s roster, as he started 18 games and averaged 12.3 points per game, which was third on the team. Wayne Bristol (3.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG) is the only other player of the nine players to appear in the starting lineup that is still at Georgetown, with only three total players sticking around for the Cooley era. There will be a lot of new pieces, which could mean a learning curve for the Hoyas in 2023-24.
Seton Hall Pirates
Head Coach: Shaheen Holloway (second season)
2022-23 Record: 17-16 (10-10 Big East)
Final 2022-23 KenPom.com Ranking: No. 58
2023-24 KenPom Ranking: No. 56
2022-23 in review
Shaheen Holloway, fresh off a deep NCAA Tournament run with St. Peter’s, was the obvious choice to replace Kevin Willard, who left for Maryland. Now in his second season, Seton Hall looks to make it back to the NCAA Tournament after an NIT bid in his first season, a journey that ended in the first round. The Pirates were elite defensively, at No. 20 in KenPom defensive efficiency, and held UConn below 1.00 points per possession in both matchups, but were No. 133 in offensive efficiency. The Pirates often struggled to score when it mattered and were unable to win a game in either the Big East Tournament or the NIT.
Seton Hall will look to take a step forward in year two under Holloway and a strong non-conference schedule should help show where the team is early in the year. The Rady Children’s Invitational guarantees a matchup against USC and either Iowa or Oklahoma, while the Pirates travel to Baylor as part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle, as well as dates with Missouri and Rutgers.
Only six players started more than two games in 2022-23. Just Kadary Richmond and Al-Amir Dawes remain, averaging a respective 12.6 and 10.1 points per game. That was good for first and third on the team, though Dylan Addae-Wusu crossed the border to the Pirates from St. John’s. Holloway brought in four freshmen, but only one is a four-star prospect. With how much talent left South Orange, Seton Hall may take a step back this year, but Holloway’s team will always compete.
Head Coach: Thad Matta (second season)
2022-23 Record: 14-18 (6-14 Big East)
Final 2022-23 KenPom.com Ranking: No. 119
2023-24 KenPom Ranking: No. 96
2022-23 in review
Thad Matta had some big wins in his first year in Indianapolis, including home wins over Kansas State and Xavier, both top-25 KenPom teams, but the consistency wasn’t there, as the Bulldogs lost at home to Georgetown and struggled away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, with just three road wins, two of which were against sub-200 KenPom teams. Butler held serve in KenPom with the end of the LaVall Jordan era, but Butler was 6-14 in Big East play and was just 1-2 in the Battle 4 Atlantis, with no postseason play.
Butler is in the ESPN Events Invitational and will have a road game against Michigan State as part of the Gavitt Games, as well as Texas Tech during the Big East-Big 12 Battle, but there are plenty of opportunities for wins. There are four sub-200 teams on the docket, as well as Division II Saginaw Valley State.
Matta brought in four true freshmen, including top-100 player Finley Bizjack, as well as Posh Alexander, who came to Butler as part of the exodus from St. John’s, and Pierre Brooks II, who played two seasons at Michigan State. Both will likely play heavy roles, as center Jalen Thomas is the only returner who made a start in 2022-23. He averaged 7.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per night last year.
Butler had a lot of roster turnover and didn’t bring in many elite freshmen, though there are some solid transfers arriving in Indianapolis. The Bulldogs probably aren’t ready for many Big East opponents.
DePaul Blue Demons
Head Coach: Tony Stubblefield (third season)
2022-23 Record: 10-23 (3-17 Big East)
Final 2022-23 KenPom.com Ranking: No. 135
2023-24 KenPom Ranking: No. 110
2022-23 in review
DePaul won a game in the Big East Tournament, topping Seton Hall, but narrowly lost to Xavier in the quarterfinals. This was one of the biggest highlights of the year, along with a home win over the Musketeers in the regular season. However, the Blue Demons lost 12 straight Big East games to close out the regular season, which precluded them from any further postseason play after finishing in 10th place in the Big East, with just three wins over KenPom top-100 competition.
Tony Stubblefield’s team is in the Arizona Tip-Off, which will guarantee two matchups against KenPom top-100 competition, as well as top-50 games against Iowa State, Northwestern and Texas A&M, along with tough games against Long Beach State and Louisville, with just four surefire wins on the non-conference docket.
There are just two freshmen coming to Chicago, both of which were at NBA Academy Africa. Both of them, Churchill Abass and Dramane Camara, were four-star prospects. However, just 21 total starts return to the team in 2023-24, led by Jalen Terry, who was in the lineup 16 times. He averaged 5.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Da’Sean Nelson is the only returning double-digit scorer, with 10 points per game.
A brutal schedule combined with a lot of roster turnover could mean a record downturn for DePaul, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be progress. However, Stubblefield may feel his seat start to get warm with another finish toward the bottom in the Big East.