The wait is almost over. Almost. Half the year has dragged on without college basketball, and our appetite for hoops is enormous.
Which is why, with crisp fall air swirling, we’re going to preview the biggest stories and names from the college basketball landscape.
Today, we feast on the Big East.
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You know your team is in a good place when you graduate the best player in the conference and already have the next one lined up. Villanova’s Josh Hart put together one of the more impressive season in the country last year, but with Hart gone, it’s Jalen Brunson’s time to be the Wildcats’ No. 1 option in his third year on campus.
Brunson, a smooth 6-3 point guard with a silky offensive game, often looks like he has the ability to score at will. He added more than five points per game from his freshman season to his sophomore game, while also improving his field goal percentage by nine percent and his free throw percentage by double digits. He also added 1.6 assists per game while cutting down his turnovers per 100 possessions.
Basically, he got better at everything, and there’s no reason to think he won’t do so again.
With Hart gone, Brunson will both be handling the ball more and scoring more, and if Villanova ends up taking the Big East crown once again, Brunson is going to be a big part of why.
With championship experience in his freshman year and talent coming out of his ears, the junior playmaker is one of the most well-rounded players in the country, and he should take off in a big way this fall.
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Like Jay Wright’s suits, the Wildcats will likely be among the best in the country once again this year. Having the aforementioned Brunson running the show certainly helps, but this isn’t a one-man team by any means.
Big man Omari Spellman (6-9, 245 pounds) will make his debut this season, a perfect foil to Brunson’s smooth point guard play. There’s also the returning shooter Mikal Bridges, who averaged 9.8 points per game while knocking down nearly 40 percent of his threes last year, and Donte DiVincenzo, another enticing shooter who took a big step forward last season in Ryan Arcidiacono’s wake.
The all-around talent they have at every position on the floor, and the head-and-shoulders-above talent they have in Brunson and Spellman, will make Wright’s team a hard one to compete with for its Big East foes, and, frankly, for the entire country.