Right now, the Big East is the most intriguing conference in the NCAAB betting polls. Last year, it was one of the strongest and deepest in the nation, sending six squads to the NCAA Tournament, behind only the Big Ten and the Big 12. Thanks to a few star performers coming back and some blue-chip recruits on the way in, the Big East is ready for another exciting season. So what are the key things to think about as we ponder the Big East this year?
Villanova has an underrated offense for online betting experts. They scored 120 points per 100 possessions last season according to KenPom.com, ranking them #4 in the nation. They were efficient, running a version of the motion offense that showed a ton of pick and rolls to open up three point shooting opportunities. Villanova ranked #11 last year in three point shots attempted, and they had a six-guard rotation, all of whom could shoot at least 35% from downtown. This year, four of those guards will return, and he adds stellar recruit Jalen Brunson to his backcourt. Brunson has elite court vision and passing acumen, and his shooting skill will make him a perfect fit in the Villanova system. Should Brunson meet the expectations, the Wildcats will maintain their level of efficiency on offense and win the Big East once again.
Don’t overlook Butler, though, who only permitted 90.4 points per 100 possessions, leaving them #7 in the rankings for efficient defense this past season. Their display in the NCAA Tournament showed how effective their signature defensive emphasis was, as they were able to bottle up what was an outstanding Notre Dame offense for much of their game in the third round. Butler did lose Alex Barlow and Kameron Woods, the team’s defensive stalwarts, to graduation. Even so, Butler will bring back the top three scorers from a year ago, including sharpshooter Kellen Dunham and experienced old man Roosevelt Jones. Will Butler try to turn itself into an offensively minded team since its best players seem to have strength in that area?
Providence guard Kris Dunn was a turnover machine last year, giving the ball away 138 times last year, the most in the nation and an average of more than four turnovers per game. Dunn is one of the conference’s best players and is likely to be one of the nation’s best players too. Like many guards who are young, though, he struggles when it comes to taking care of the ball. Now that LaDontae Henton has graduated, Dunn will get a lot more touches this season, so it’s time for him to manage the ball more effectively and find ways to distribute. One bonus to the problem is that all it takes is disciplined film study, solid coaching and extra practice to get rid of the hands problem. Dunn is a huge talent – so much so that it’s easy to teach him the rudiments of ball protection and lower his turnovers.
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