COLUMN: Huskies still run the Big East, but could it be for much longer?


Erin Henze

Senior guard Anaya Peoples shoots a three-pointer over senior guard Unique Drake during Saturday’s 81-72 loss against St. John’s.

It’s no secret that when the Big East preseason coaches poll was released on Oct. 18, Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies would unanimously be at the top, but the same cannot be said about the 10 remaining spots in the conference.  

Auriemma has guided the Huskies to 21 Big East Tournament titles in the last two decades. Since the merger in 2013, forming the current iteration of the conference, the Huskies have only lost one Big East game, which came last season on Feb. 9 against Villanova. 

The preseason polls had DePaul and Seton Hall both projected to tie in fourth place. Now nine games into Big East play, the Blue Demons are underperforming, while the Pirates are currently exceeding expectations

Coming into the season, DePaul women’s basketball had several questions and unknowns as to what this roster was going to look like. It was also unclear how they would perform.

It has been shown that while sophomore Aneesah Morrow is a top player in college basketball, her double-double performances aren’t enough to carry DePaul to wins over better teams in the Big East. 

Head coach Doug Bruno has his team ranked second in the conference in scoring behind UConn at 77 points per game. But the Hall-of-Fame coach’s team is sporting the worst defense in the conference, allowing 70 points per game. 

Inconsistency, matched with injuries and a lack of chemistry on the court has led to a frustrating season.

St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella and Villanova head coach Denise Dillon are proving that the Big East may no longer run through Auriemma’s Huskies. 

While projected early to finish seventh, the St. John’s Red Storm are now quietly making noise, sitting 17-3 with a 7-3 conference record after a recent win Saturday against DePaul. 

Led by senior Jayla Everett and redshirt senior Bailey Kadaja, the Red Storm started the season 13-0 with its conference-leading defense which is allowing the fewest points per game in the league with 56. Efficient shooting has also paved the way for a strong start. They currently sit second in the conference, shooting 44% as a team. 

Sitting behind UConn at 9-1 are the Villanova Wildcats. After being beaten 70-40 in last season’s Big East tournament championship, the Wildcats might have a new reason to want to get back to this season’s championship game and return the favor. 

Not only leading the Big East in scoring, but all of college basketball is senior Maddy Siegrist. At 28 points per game, Siergrist became Villanova’s all-time leading scorer in Friday’s win over Creighton. 

She has been the driving force to Villanova’s 18-3 record, while also averaging a double-double. Dillon has the Wildcats in prime position to potentially dethrone UConn from the regular season title, something Auriemma and the Huskies have done 20 times in the past two decades. 

While Villanova has yet to play UConn this season, the first of two matchups between the two will come Sunday, Jan. 29. Villanova has been able to breeze by everyone else in the conference and stand a stall task for the Huskies. 

Sitting at the bottom of the conference are Xaiver, Butler, Georgetown, Providence and Marquette in that order. 

Injuries and lack of production on the court have led to these teams’ lackluster seasons so far. 

Xavier has yet to win a Big East game this season, sitting with a 10-0 record. The last time the Musketeers had a winning season was in 2015-16, which ended in a first-round knockout to Butler in the Big East Tournament. 

Marquette started the season better than any other team in the country. With wins over teams like No. 3 Texas and Gonzaga, the Golden Eagles’ non-conference portion was a success. 

It wasn’t until the Big East play began that things started to go south. Marquette has run into similar problems as the Blue Demons. Senior Jordan King has led the way in scoring for the Golden Eagles, but has struggled to find consistency from a mixed group of experienced and inexperienced teammates. 

With well over half the Big East schedule left, standings in the Big East will change. A few things are more certain than others. UConn, Villanova and St. John’s should round out the top three. Xavier could very well end the season with no Big East wins. 

DePaul, Marquette and Providence sit in an area of the conference where if things don’t turn around quickly, they could turn ugly. To avoid that, wins need to start coming within the next few games. 

Two teams that have yet to be mentioned are Creighton and Seton Hall. Yes, these teams will finish the regular season within the four or five spot, but it almost feels that’s as far as they can get. 

Creighton head coach Jim Flanery scheduled his team a more competitive non-conference schedule than most teams in the Big East, which has led to much of his team’s six losses. 

The BlueJays offense primarily ran through ball movement and three-point shooting, but have been streaky this season. In Friday’s loss to Villanova, Creighton shot only 30% from three. Performances like this have stalled Flanery’s team. Poor shooting is something to watch out for that could prevent Creighton from going past the first couple rounds of the Big East Tournament. 

Seton Hall on the other hand could shock a couple teams in the Big East, like they have already. Currently sitting third, they are led by Lauren Park-Lane, who sits third in the Big East with 19 points per game. 

Like any conference, teams will beat up on each other. The Big East currently has two teams in the top-25, No. 5 UConn and No. 22 Villanova, which all but guarantees them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. 

Creighton, Seton Hall, Marquette and St. John’s all round out the top-60 in NCAA net ranking. As things stand, possibilities are high that the Big East could welcome six teams into March Madness.

Fans have to remember that possibly the greatest stretch of collegiate basketball is still in front of us with Auriemma and UConn. Don’t expect for them to be dethroned, as they still lead the Big East and all of women’s college basketball as the most successful program. 

The Big East Tournament will begin March 3-6, with all teams participating. Games will be played at Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, Connecticut.