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Big East Conference 2024 Season Preview





By Colton Watson


In 2023, the Big East Conference became a real player in the NCAA Baseball Regionals, when it sent two teams down south to not only play, but win, post-season games. Those at the top of the eight-team conference have a real chance to repeat some of those antics in 2024. The rest of the league, including the Omaha natives of Creighton University, will seek to dethrone UConn and Xavier as the best the Big East has to offer. As customary for most teams in the Northern U.S., everybody in the Big East will travel for opening weekend of the 2024 college baseball season.

(Teams presented in 2023 order of finish, with leading returning hitter and pitcher)




Connecticut (preseason # 1 in Big East)

2023 record: 44-17 (15-5)

Head Coach: Jim Penders

Jake Studley: .325 AVG, 8 HR, 57 RBI

Stephen Quigley: 4.83 ERA, 15 APP, 76.1 IP, 74 K, 29 BB

Opening weekend opponents:  (at Tampa, FL) South Florida, Indiana State, Louisville


UConn made a splash as the Big East’s at-large representative to the NCAA tournament last season, going 1-2 in the Gainesville regional after breaking into the College Baseball Central rankings in early March. The Huskies were picked to win the Big East once again by the league’s coaches and will look to continue their momentum accrued a season ago.




Xavier (preseason # 2 in Big East)

2023 record: 39-25 (14-7)

Head Coach: Bill O’Conner

Matt McCornmick: .309 AVG, 14 HR, 44 RBI

Luke Hoskins: 4.48 ERA, 20 APP, 78.1 IP, 53 K, 18 BB

Opening weekend opponent: at Clemson


While UConn had the regular season accolades, the biggest post season splash made by the Big East came behind the arms and bats of Xavier. They upset UConn to win the Big East tournament, turning the Big East into a two-bid league, and finished the year one win shy of a Super Regional appearance, after eliminating host Vanderbilt in the Nashville Regional. Ultimately, Xavier’s season ended the same way it began—with a loss against Oregon.




Seton Hall (preseason # 3 in Big East)

2023 record: 31-24 (13-8)

Head Coach: Rob Sheppard

Max Viera: .319 AVG, 5 HR, 46 RBI

Michael Gillen: 0.34 ERA, 19 APP, 26.2 IP, 27 K, 5 BB

Opening weekend opponents: (at Mt. Pleasant, SC) Iowa, Michigan State, and Merrimack


Seton Hall had a quietly productive season, opening up the year with a road win over highly ranked UNC before falling in the series on days 2 and 3. The Pirates didn't play anyone of note the rest of the season besides conference foes UConn and Xavier, and they bowed out of the four-team Big East Conference tournament by going 0-2.




Georgetown (preseason # T-4 in Big East)

2023 record: 30-27 (10-10)

Head Coach: Edwin Thompson

Jake Hyde: .320 AVG, 16 HR, 56 RBI

Andrew Williams: 4.61 ERA, 15 APP, 56.2 IP, 49 K, 17 BB

Opening weekend opponents: (at Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ) Grand Canyon, Cal, and Kansas State


Georgetown, the last team in at the 2023 Big East tournament with a 10-10 conference record, is looking to take a step forward in 2024. A potent offensive lineup carried the Hoyas a season ago, but they’ll have to improve on their 3-5 record against the league’s top-two teams if they want a chance to unseat UConn and Xavier as the Big East’s cream of the crop.




Creighton (preseason # T-4 in Big East)

2023 record: 25-24 (10-11)

Head Coach: Ed Servais

Jack Grace: .295 AVG, 11 HR, 31 RBI

Dominic Cancellieri: 5.43 ERA, 14 APP, 58.0 IP, 60 K, 19 BB

Opening weekend opponent: at Coppin State


The Men's College World Series host institution was perhaps a rainout away from making their conference tournament in 2023, but they are expected to make the narrow field this season by the league’s coaches. Three close victories versus the likes of Nebraska, Minnesota, and Coastal Carolina showed how scrappy the team could be, and they’ll be looking to make up for missed opportunities from a season ago in 2024.




St. John’s (preseason # 6 in Big East)

2023 record: 28-25 (8-12)

Head Coach: Mike Hampton

Paul Orbon: .338 AVG, 3 HR, 33 RBI

Joe Masico: 4.68 ERA, 13 APP (all starts), 65.1 IP, 63 K, 26 BB

Opening weekend opponent: at Florida


Series wins at Tulane and Marshall to open up the 2023 season had St. John’s looking like a real threat in the Big East conference race. Alas, the Red Storm failed to win a conference series all season until sweeping last-place Butler to cap off a mildly disappointing year. St. John’s will be battle-tested headed into conference play once again this season, with road games against Florida, Houston, and Texas back-to-back-to-back to open up 2024.

 



Villanova (preseason # 8 in Big East)

2023 record: 14-37 (7-13)

Head Coach: Kevin Mulvey

Jack O’Reilly: .303 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI

Stephen Turzai: 5.26 ERA, 25 APP, 37.2 IP, 38 K, 20 BB

Opening weekend opponent: at Incarnate Word


It was an underwhelming season for the Wildcats, posting a second-straight dismal winning percentage, both overall and in conference play, after an encouraging year in 2021. Nova managed just a single win in the first 15 games of the 2023 season but enjoyed a mid-season stretch with five out of six wins before nose diving again. Even less is expected of them this season, as the Big East coaches pegged them dead last in their preseason rankings.

 



Butler (preseason # 7 in Big East)

2023 record: 12-43 (5-16)

Head Coach: Blake Beemer

Joey Urban: .296 AVG, 6 HR, 35 RBI

Cole Graverson: 6.98 ERA, 19 APP, 40.0 IP, 46 K, 25 BB

Opening weekend opponent: @ Florida State


If Butler finishes as predicted with the second-worst Big East conference record, it will still be an improvement for last year’s bottom dwellers. The Bulldogs did win two conference series, to go with one nonconference series win and two splits, but the product on the field will have to improve in 2024 for Butler to be just mediocre. The Bulldogs do return the Big East Freshman of the Year in OF Joey Urban.


*****

 


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