Biggest questions across the Big East
Can Creighton improve defensively?
Creighton deployed the nation’s third-most efficient offense in the country last season and that was the driving force of their impressive campaign. With Zegarowski and Ballock (among others) returning, it is reasonable to expect the Bluejays to once again put up numbers offensively. But in order for the program to take the next step into national title contention this year, they need to be better on the other end of the court.
Coach McDermott’s team ranked just 78th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency last season. The Bluejays almost never sent opponents to the foul line but surrendered a ton of offensive boards and rarely created turnovers. With shutdown wing Ty-Shon Alexander now in the NBA, it’s difficult to envision the Bluejays making strides defensively. Improvements on that end, though, will be critical in determining Creighton’s ceiling.
How Will UConn adjust in their return?
UConn has plenty of talent this season. That much has been well-documented with the returns of Bouknight and their loaded frontcourt. The question remains, though, is that enough to win in the Big East? The Huskies aren’t simply “picking up where they left off” as they return to their former conference. This is a program that has truly struggled over the past few seasons and is expecting to experience a resurgence while also facing tougher competition than in the AAC. That is easier said than done.
The Big East is not only more talented at the top with Villanova as a perennial national title contender, but the cellar of the league is also way better than the bottom of the AAC. The Huskies finished outside of the AAC Top 4 in each of the last six seasons and finishing that high in the Big East is what many fans are projecting.
With that said, UConn will need to have its best season since winning the 2014 National Championship in order to just meet expectations. That is asking a lot, in my opinion, even with the talent on the roster and the coaching on the sidelines.