Big East Conference 2019 Projections
Updated: Feb 1, 2019
In this article, we will be going over my projected order of finish in the Big East Conference. This article does not take into account how far a team may go in the postseason. It is only focused on how a team will finish in their conference during the regular season and conference tournament, if they qualify for a spot. Enjoy!
The Friars struggled in 2018 and the stats show it. The offense struggled, only putting the ball in the net 9.27 times per game. The defense was good with allowing 9.80 goals per game. That average is somewhat baffling when you notice the man down was so bad with a .420% conversion rate. The clears were amazing with a .914% conversion rate! The Friars seem to have lost their best players on D though, as I struggled to find any returning defensive standouts on the 2019 roster. The offense should improve with the return of Sean Leahey (26 goals, 10 assists) and Nick Hatzipetrakos (22 goals, 1 assist). Hatzipetrakos will need more assists if the offense hopes to improve. For the Friars to do better in 2019, they will have to improve their goals per game average by two goals minimum.
The Wildcats did some great things in 2018, including beating Penn State in the season opener 17-16. Overall though, they struggled. Scoring 172 goals is great, but when you allow 182, you won’t win your biggest games. What hurts their projection here is the Cats lose their best scorers in Christian Cuccinello (33 goals, 28 assists) and Danny Seibel (36 goals, 10 assists). That means it will be up to Keegan Khan (30 goals, 15 assists) to shoulder the offensive load. There is some hope for the defense with the return of groundball vacuum Zachary Kryza (26 groundballs, 3 turnovers), but I couldn’t find any other stars. If the defense improves and the offense stays the same, Villanova will make the conference tournament; however, the defense has to actually show that improvement before being higher on the list.
The Golden Eagles have done some great things since fielding a D1 team, but seem to have taken a step back in 2018. They only went 6-8 and scored a putrid 7.86 goals per game. That’s a shame too since the defense did so well in allowing 9.86 goals per game. The Golden Eagles offense should be better this year as it returns attackmen John Wagner (30 goals, 9 assists) and Anthony Orsini (16 goals, 7 assists). These two should be improved from the 2018 campaign and that should bump the goals per game average up by at least 2 goals. The defense should be good again as it returns Brendon Connolly (22 groundballs) for one last run. The Golden Eagles also deserve credit for winning the 2018 groundball battle 352-316. Marquette must keep certain things up while improving on offense to be a threat to take the conference crown.
3. St. John’s
The Red Storm went 6-8 and 0-5 in conference, but most of those losses were close. The defense was average with allowing 10 goals per game, but I attribute part of that with an offense that put in 9.79 goals. What’s perplexing is the man up was really good with a .419% conversion rate, which bodes well for the standard offense to improve. The offense does return two veteran attackmen in Joe Madsen (31 goals, 9 assists) and Colin Duffy (20 goals, 7 assists). The defense returns Aidan Marron (12 groundballs) and he should help with keeping the goals against average down. An improved offense is the key for St. John’s to make a big jump in conference play, and I have confidence this will happen with two experienced attackmen coming back.
The Hoyas had an awesome 2018 season. They finished the year 12-5 with an 11.06 goals per game average, while allowing 8.12. Both of those numbers are impressive. The Hoyas also won the groundball battle 443 to 381. The offense should be just as good in 2019 as the Hoyas return attackmen Jack Carraway (44 goals, 20 assists) and Danial Bacaro (34 goals, 21 assists). The defense will be stout as it returns leader Stephen MacLeod (20 groundballs, 2 turnovers) for his junior season. The one knock that keeps the Hoyas from taking the number one spot is they struggled to finish strong. In 2018, they Hoyas lost the fourth quarter battle 36-42. It’s almost as if the team tired out in the final stretches of games. The Hoyas will have to fix that issue with better depth and conditioning, or they will fail to repeat as league champions.
It’s probably no surprise that Denver takes the top spot. Admittedly, the Pioneers have not done too well in Big East tournament play, but I think the fact they were somewhat embarrassed against Georgetown in the finals will help motivate them. The Pioneers were undefeated at home in 2018 while racking up 11.35 goals per game and allowing 7.88. Their man up had an outstanding .512% conversion rate. The defense admittedly struggled, allowing a .444% conversion rate. The Pioneers won the ground ball battle by a massive margin: 454-344.
It would be shocking for there to be any drop off as the Pioneers return all their best players minus Trevor Baptiste. On offense, the Pioneers bring back Ethan Walker (48 goals, 22 assists), Austin French (29 goals, 31 assists), and Colton Jackson (22 goals, 12 assists). On defense, Denver returns one of the best defenders in the nation in Dylan Gaines (36 groundballs) who is an absolute monster with a 6 foot pole. The Pios will be loaded for another title run in 2019, so it won’t surprise many if they win the whole Big East.