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Big East Preview: DePaul looks to continue reign as the conference’s top team

DePaul looks to remain as the Big East’s top women’s basketball team in a conference that featured four teams which advanced to the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Marquette vs DePaul Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a look at the Big East and the storylines its teams will be facing in the 2018-19 season.

How did the Big East teams do last year?

Here are the Big East’s teams, listed with their records, according to the 2017-18 standings:

  1. DePaul Blue Demons, 27-8 (15-3 Big East)
  2. Marquette Golden Eagles, 24-10 (15-3 Big East)
  3. Villanova Wildcats, 23-9 (12-6 Big East)
  4. Creighton Blue Jays, 19-13 (11-7 Big East)
  5. St. John’s Red Storm, 19-15 (9-9 Big East)
  6. Georgetown Hoyas, 16-16 (9-9 Big East)
  7. Seton Hall Pirates, 16-16 (7-11 Big East)
  8. Butler Bulldogs, 15-17 (6-12 Big East)
  9. Xavier Musketeers, 10-20 (3-15 Big East)
  10. Providence Friars, 10-21 (3-15 Big East)

Biggest storylines heading into the season

Here are some of the major storylines in the Big East heading into the 2018-19 season:

  • Can the conference remain as one of women’s basketball’s best outside of the top football conferences? The Big East, before its realignment in 2013, was dominated by UConn and Louisville became a national power as well. Since realignment, DePaul has emerged as the top team in the conference, but Marquette, Villanova and Creighton are all very strong teams. Georgetown and St. John’s also made deep tournament runs earlier this decade. Last season, four Big East teams advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and a few teams should be bound for an Elite Eight (or better) in 2018-19.
  • How will DePaul fare in a tough non-conference schedule? This season, the Blue Demons will play two Final Four teams in Notre Dame (November 17) and at UConn (November 28). But they will also play other perennially strong teams like Princeton, Kansas State and Syracuse in the Cancun Challenge during Thanksgiving weekend, and at Oklahoma on December 9. These games will be big tests for the Blue Demons before they head into the conference season. Mart’e Grays and sharpshooter Ashton Millender will be leading this season’s team as they look to continue their reign on the conference.
  • How will the young Providence Friars look? The Friars have been veritable doormats in the Big East, not making the postseason since 2009. However, the team is coached by Jim Crowley, who led the St. Bonaventure Bonnies to several NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012 before going to Providence in the 2016-17 season. The Friars have 10 freshmen and sophomores who will gain experience this season and become the foundation of the team in future seasons, so it will be interesting to see how they play as a unit this season, even if the wins aren’t there yet.

Game information

Here are three of the top games to see in the Big East this season:

Non-conference matches to see

DePaul at Connecticut

  • When: Wednesday, November 28 at 7 p.m. ET
  • Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL
  • How to watch: ESPN3 (national streaming) or SNY (New England market)
  • Why to watch: The Blue Demons will be coming off their Cancun weekend and six games overall before playing the Huskies on the road. At this point, DePaul should be close to midseason form.

Marquette vs. Notre Dame

  • When: Saturday, December 22 at 1:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI
  • How to watch: Fox Sports 1
  • Why to watch: The Fighting Irish will be on the road to play a former Big East rival. Both Marquette and Notre Dame are also Catholic institutions so that’s also at play here, like many of the intra-conference rivalries within the current Big East.

Conference matches to watch

Marquette vs. DePaul

  • When: Friday, January 4 at 8 p.m. ET
  • Where: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI
  • How to watch: Fox Sports 1
  • Why to watch: The Golden Eagles and Blue Demons were the top two teams in the Big East last season where they shared the conference title. There will be no love lost as they face each other soon after the start of the new conference play.

Georgetown vs. Marquette

  • When: Sunday, January 13 at 2 p.m. ET
  • Where: McDonough Arena, Washington, DC
  • How to watch: Big East Network
  • Why to watch: The Hoyas were a middle of the pack Big East team last season, but they were the only team to defeat both DePaul and Marquette last season. Georgetown will host the Golden Eagles just two days after playing DePaul at home. Last season, the Hoyas blew out the Golden Eagles, 85-58, and would love to repeat that performance once again this season.

For more information

Click here to get to the Big East’s website.