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Andy Katz | Correspondent | October 29, 2018

Villanova is No. 1 in Andy Katz's Big East college basketball power rankings

Who can challenge Villanova in the Big East?

NEW YORK — Big East commissioner Val Ackerman began to list some of the conference's accomplishments Thursday at Big East media day. But she could have stopped after Villanova's two national titles in three seasons and the message would have been sent: the Big East has had as good a run lately as any conference in the country.

The depth of the league hasn’t been an issue. It won’t be this season, either. Here’s what I see happening: as many as eight teams could have a legitimate shot at the NCAA tournament even if none have a No. 1 seed.

MORE: The first AP Top 25 of the 2018-19 college basketball season is here, here's who leads it

Here are my revised rankings:

1. Villanova: Phil Booth is ready to become the leader of this team. He’s the type of senior the Wildcats have thrived with in recent years. Eric Paschall will have a monster season. And the newcomers are plentiful, oozing with talent. This league goes through Nova.

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament

2. Marquette: Scorers/shooters Markus Howard and Sam Hauser were succinct in what needs to happen for the Golden Eagles to become a Big East winner and a team that could go deep: defend. If the Golden Eagles defend well, then Marquette is in for a banner season.

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament

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3. Butler: Kamar Baldwin is an impressive player. He can fill the stat sheet and he has presence. He’s got a complementary partner in the backcourt in Paul Jorgensen. The Bulldogs sense this could be a season worth remembering.

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament

4. Providence: The Friars could be jockeying with Butler for the third spot in the league. Emmitt Holt is back after an abdominal injury forced him to miss the season. He said the question will be the guard play. But freshman David Duke could make that moot if he stands out early and often. The Friars have a chance to be the most improved team from the beginning of the conference to the end.

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament

5. St. John’s: The Red Storm may have the most talent with conference preseason player of the year Shamorie Ponds. He said he needs to be more vocal and assert himself as the leader. He can. And he will. Chris Mullin said he will play Mustapha Heron more in the post, which is a need. Justin Simon doesn’t get the headlines yet but he’ll end up being a headline act.

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament

6. Georgetown: The Hoyas desperately need Jessie Govan to be a player- of-the-year candidate. Patrick Ewing would like him to be more inside and he’s starting to become much more of a versatile player. The Hoyas will be a work in progress and could be jockeying with Xavier for the last spot out of the Big East.

Postseason prediction: Bubble

7. Xavier: The Musketeers lost a lot but the core returnees Quentin Goodin and Tyrique Jones give this squad hope. The difference could be Ferris State big man transfer Zach Hankins. Travis Steele said the 6-11 grad transfer could make a major impact. Hankins was a late add, but he’s going to be well worth it with his ability to protect the rim and score inside.

Postseason prediction: Bubble

8. Seton Hall: The Pirates are in a bridge season after losing a significant amount, but Myles Powell could be the breakout player. He was the most improved last season and could see his 15 points a game average creep even higher. The Pirates are a bit of an unknown and that could mean they have a higher ceiling. Stay tuned.

Postseason prediction: NIT

9. Creighton: The Bluejays get a healthy Martin Krampelj to become their next go-to scorer. Had he been healthy last season, then Creighton wouldn’t have been an early exit in the NCAA tournament. Creighton has a solid point in Davion Mintz, who will take care of the ball keep the Bluejays' unforced errors to a minimum.

Postseason prediction: NIT

10. DePaul: The Blue Demons should be a much better team this season. That may not mean they climb higher in the standings. But don’t be shocked if DePaul is pushing to finish a few spots higher. There was definitely a swagger to Max Strus and Eli Cain when I talked to them Thursday. They know they’ve got a team that is all-in this season. Let’s see if it translates to more wins.

Postseason prediction: None

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