Breakout week continues and today we will be looking at the Big East Conference. This is a league that had a really successful season a year ago as the league was projected to send seven teams into the NCAA Tournament. This year will be a different story for the league as the league loses two All-Time greats in Markus Howard and Myles Powell, as well as a few other great players in the league. The league also adds a new team in Uconn who will be looking to be a contender from the jump. In what will be looking like an interesting season, here are my breakout candidates for the Big East.
Symir Torrence – Marquette
Marquette will be in rebuild mode this season after losing an All-Time great in Markus Howard, who scored 27.8 points per game for the Golden Eagles last season while he reached the elite 3,000 point club. Replacing that scoring will be an impossible task but Symir Torrence is someone that should step up this season. Torrence is a 6’3” true point guard that can shoot but is more known for his passing. He only averaged 1.8 points per game last season but this year Torrence will be the starting point guard and he will be asked to score a lot. While Marquette doesn’t look anything like a tournament-level team for this season, a breakout season from Torrence should give the program some momentum going into next season.
Jared Rhoden – Seton Hall
Seton Hall captured its first Big East title in the Kevin Willard era this past season but with such a successful season comes major departures. This time it is Myles Powell and Quincy McKnight who both graduated, leaving an opportunity for players like Jared Rhoden to step up. Rhoden averaged 9.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season and was really good playing as a combo-forward. Rhoden worked well as a floor-spacer, shooting 33.7% from three and being a major factor in the offense. With the Pirates losing three major pieces in the rotation, Rhoden will become an integral part of the offense, he should take a major step forward while helping the Pirates make the NCAA Tournament for what should have been a sixth straight season.
KyKy Tandy – Xavier
While Villanova is the program that has been consistently great in the league, Xavier has been nothing but consistently good since joining the league. For the Musketeers to be once again near the top of the league standings, they will need a big season from sophomore guard KyKy Tandy. Last season Tandy averaged 6.7 points per game while shooting 35.5% from three. Tandy missed time early in the season due to injury but really started to come on during conference play. With players like Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones gone, Tandy will be asked to take a major step forward this season.
Greg Gannt – Providence
Providence has been consistently able to be an NCAA Tournament level team and that should be no different this year. The Friars lose their best player from last year’s team in Alpha Diallo who has graduated but they look to fill his role by going to Greg Gannt. Gannt is a 6’8” combo forward that has the ability to score both inside and out. Gannt should get more minutes this season and if he is able to have an improvement like many expect, he should be an important piece on a Providence team that should make the NCAA Tournament.
Bryce Nze – Butler
Butler loses one of their all-time great players with Kamar Baldwin graduating this year. That leaves a lot of room for players to step up and one player that will look to take a huge step forward is Bryce Nze. Nze averaged 9.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per this past season while shooting an efficient 62.9% from the floor. Asking him to replicate that level of efficiency will be tough but he’s more than capable of increasing his scoring production which will be needed. Look for him to average around 13-16 points per game while keeping Butler competitive in the Big East.