For the third straight year, Villanova has been selected unanimously to capture the Big East regular-season crown in the Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The reigning NCAA champion Wildcats received all nine possible first-place votes from the league’s head coaches and a total of 81 points in the poll. Coaches do not place their own teams on their ballots.
Meantime, junior guard Josh Hart was named the Big East Preseason Player of the Year.
Hart and the Wildcats have been the outright regular-season champion in each of the past three seasons, compiling a 16-2 record each year. For 2016-17, coach Jay Wright’s club will be aiming for an unprecedented fourth consecutive title. Last year, the team was the Big East Tournament runner-up before marching on to win the NCAA Tournament title and capturing the eighth national championship in Big East men’s basketball history. For the second straight season, Villanova set a school record for victories, finishing with a 35-5 record.
The Wildcats return three starters from last year’s squad. Hart leads a talented group of returnees. He averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last year and was named to the NCAA All-Final Four Team. Junior forward Kris Jenkins, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer of the national championship game against North Carolina, averaged 13.6 points and made a league-leading 100 3-point baskets. Sophomore guard Jalen Brunson averaged 9.6 points and made the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team.
2016-17 Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Villanova (9) 81
2. Xavier (1) 69
3. Creighton 64
4. Georgetown 53
5. Seton Hall 53
6. Butler 44
7. Marquette 35
8. St. John’s 21
9. Providence 18
10. DePaul 12
BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Josh Hart, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-5, 215, Silver Spring, Md.
BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year
Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s, G, Fr., 6-1, 165, Brooklyn, N.Y.
BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Kelan Martin, Butler, F, Jr., 6-7, 220, Louisville, Ky.
Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton, G, Sr., 5-10, 175, Philadelphia, Pa.
Kris Jenkins, Villanova, F, Sr., 6-6, 235, Upper Marlboro, Md.
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier, G, Jr., 6-6, 205, Indianapolis, Ind.
Edmond Sumner, Xavier, G, So., 6-6, 183, Detroit, Mich.
BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Billy Garrett, Jr., DePaul, G, Sr., 6-6, 210, Chicago, Ill.
Isaac Copeland, Georgetown, F, Jr., 6-9, 220, Raleigh, N.C.
Luke Fischer, Marquette, C, Sr., 6-11, 250, Germantown, Wis.
Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall, G, Jr., 6-4, 195, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall, F, Jr., 6-10, 240, Bajos De Haina, Dominican Republic
Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Marcus Foster, Creighton, G, Jr., 6-3, 210, Wichita Falls, Texas
L.J. Peak, Georgetown, F, Jr., 6-5, 215, Gaffney, S.C.
Jalen Brunson, Villanova, G, So., 6-2, 190, Lincolnshire, Ill.