NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Creighton men’s basketball team has been picked to finish eighth in the BIG EAST Conference in the annual survey of league coaches, which was unveiled as part of BIG EAST Media Day on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Creighton is the only team in the league to match or exceed its preseason projection every season since joining the BIG EAST in 2013-14. The Bluejays will once again try to defy the odds as it seeks a sixth straight finish in the league’s top three of the standings. Last year’s team was predicted to finish second in the BIG EAST, then ended up there. Two years ago, a team picked seventh in the BIG EAST’s preseason poll went 13-5 in league play to share its first league title with Villanova and Seton Hall. That Bluejay team ended the year ranked seventh in the entire nation.
For the seventh time in the last eight years, Villanova was chosen to win the BIG EAST regular-season title in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Wildcats, who captured last year’s regular-season crown, received all possible 10 first-place votes from the league’s head coaches, who did not place their own teams on their ballots. Villanova received 100 points in the poll.
Connecticut was picked for second place with 84 points. The Huskies received one first-place vote. Xavier edged St. John’s for third place with 76 points, ahead of the Johnnies’ 73 points. Seton Hall was picked fifth with 68 points. Butler was sixth with 60 points followed by Providence (45 points), Creighton (38), Marquette (26), Georgetown (25) and DePaul (10).
The Bluejays did not have any of the 13 student-athletes named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST squad, the first time since 2015-16 the Bluejays have been shutout of preseason awards
Villanova guard Collin Gillespie was chosen 2021-22 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and Georgetown guard Aminu Mohammed was voted BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year. The coaches, who were not permitted to choose their own players, also selected an All-BIG EAST First Team, All-BIG EAST Second Team and All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention.
Gillespie, a 6-3 graduate student from Huntingdon Valley, Pa., is coming off a season when he shared BIG EAST Player of the Year honors with teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili. In all games, Gillespie averaged 14.0 points and 4.6 assists per game. His assist average ranked third in the BIG EAST and he was first in assist/turnover ratio at 2.9. The Wildcat captain also ranked fifth in free throw shooting, making 83.3 percent. Gillespie is taking advantage of a fifth year of eligibility that was granted by the NCAA due to the effects of the pandemic last season.
Mohammed, considered one of the top prep recruits in the nation, is expected to contribute immediately for Georgetown. The 6-5 guard, who was born in Nigeria, excelled at Greenwood Laboratory School (Mo.) where he won Mr. Show-Me Basketball as a senior. Mohammed earned McDonald’s All-America honors and scored 2,709 career points at Greenwood. He was also a two-time Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year (2020-21, 2018-19).
Creighton opens the season with an Oct. 30 exhibition vs. Upper Iowa before opening the regular-season on Nov. 9 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Both games will tip off at 7 p.m.