NCAA Basketball

Seton Hall men picked to win Big East, edging Villanova

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

By DOUG FEINBERG

AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) Myles Powell calls it an easy decision to return to Seton Hall and not turn pro. He wants to be the first person in his family to graduate college.

The Pirates' star senior guard has Seton Hall atop the Big East preseason conference poll, ending Villanova's five-year run.

"I sit back and say for me to be the first one, no one can take that for me," said Powell, the conference's preseason player of the year. "I have five little brothers and sisters who look up to me, and I can set an example for them. For me to be the first to say that in my family is important."

Powell also wants to help Seton Hall win the Big East title after they fell short to Villanova in the title game last year.

"The NBA isn't going anywhere, overseas isn't going anywhere, so why not do it," said Powell, second in the conference with a 23.1-point scoring average. "We lost in the finals of the conference tournament and first round of the NCAAs. I want to change that."

Wearing a blue suit with preseason player of the year stitched inside, Powell was chosen over Marquette guard Markus Howard for the preseason award. Howard was the conference's player of the year last year. He said it will motivate him this season.

"Definitely does. Same thing happened last year," Howard said. "All I'm worried about is trying to make us the best we can be. When the team comes first, the individual stuff takes care of itself."

The Pirates return four starters from last season's NCAA team, including Powell. Seton Hall received one more vote than the Wildcats on Thursday. Villanova has won five of the past six regular-season titles and topped Seton Hall by two points in the conference tournament title game in March.

It wasn't tight in the predictions for just the top two teams. Only seven points separated third through seventh place. Xavier was third, with Marquette and Providence tied for fourth. Georgetown, Creighton, Butler, St. John's and DePaul round out the poll.

"It definitely is very close from top to bottom," Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said. "It makes the conference more exciting."

Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was voted the conference freshman of the year in the Big East's 40th anniversary season.

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Updated October 10, 2019

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