Looking ahead: Big East preview

With James Bell gone, Darrun Hilliard will inherit additional shots and responsibilities in the offense. Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports

The Big East had a very disappointing 2014 NCAA tournament, as the league earned the distinction of being the only major conference not to put a single team into the Sweet 16. The Villanova Wildcats and Creighton Bluejays were highly seeded but were both defeated convincingly in the round of 32 (by the eventual national champion Connecticut Huskies and Baylor Bears, respectively).

At the risk of dwelling on the past, the conference might look back on that tournament as a lost opportunity. Jay Wright's team should be strong again in 2014-15 (see below), but with the departure of Doug McDermott, it's not clear whether Creighton -- or any other Big East team besides Villanova -- can contend for a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.

That being said, there's no shortage of optimism to be found surrounding the Georgetown Hoyas and Seton Hall Pirates. Both programs will greet the new season armed with outstanding crops of freshmen. The league might struggle to equal the seeds it earned in the last NCAA tournament, but recording more than two tournament wins might prove to be a perfectly realistic goal.

Here's a look ahead at the Big East in 2014-15: