As the college golf season gets ready to resume, Golfweek will preview each automatic-qualifier conference in Division I, offering picks to win, midseason All-Conference teams and more.
All of our conference previews will reside here.
Next up: Big East
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Conference championship: April 29-May 1, Callawassie Island, Okatie, S.C.
Defending champion: Marquette
Team rankings: Marquette (26), Georgetown (162), Seton Hall (189), Butler (199), DePaul (217), Xavier (232), Creighton (244), Villanova (245), St. John’s (276)
Midseason All-Conference team: Austin Kendziorski, Marquette (91); Hunter Eichhorn, Marquette (105); Oliver Farrell, Marquette (220); Matt Murlick, Marquette (262); Garrett Wood, Xavier (351)
What to expect: Marquette posted a final-round rally from a 17-shot deficit to win the Big East last year. That likely won’t be necessary this time around. The Golden Eagles are certainly the overwhelming favorites entering the spring in the Big East. That’s what happens when your crew posts a marvelous fall that saw the ranking jump from a 2016-17 season-end No. 110 to a current No. 26. The Golden Eagles have massively improved with a number of contributions. Junior Austin Kendziorski has rocketed from very occasional starter ranked outside the top 850 to a top-100 player in one season. Hunter Eichhorn has jumped in as a freshman and is on the verge of top-100 status himself. Sophomore Matt Murlick was outside the top 600 in 2016-17 but now has jumped all the way to No. 262. It all adds up to Marquette ranking more than 135 spots higher than its closest rival in the Big East and boasting the top four players in the conference. With the Golden Eagles having captured the Big East in 2015 and ’17 as well, it’ll take a monumental effort for a squad to unseat them come conference championship time.
Pick to win: Marquette
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Conference championship: April 20-22, Callawassie Island, Okatie, S.C.
Defending champion: Georgetown
Team rankings: Georgetown (79), Seton Hall (84), St. John’s (137), Xavier (144), Butler (177), Creighton (224)
Midseason All-Conference team: Jacquelyn Eleey, Georgetown (227); Madeline Sager, Seton Hall (326); Alexa Popowitz, Georgetown (337); Mikayla Fitzpatrick, Xavier (361); Mia Kness, Seton Hall (422)
What to expect: The Georgetown-Seton Hall battle looks like it’ll continue in 2018. One of those two has been the conference champion the last four years. Three of those times, the pair finished 1-2. The Pirates won three straight from 2014-16, with the Hoyas finishing runner-up each time. But Georgetown finally reigned supreme in 2017 with a nine-shot victory at the conference championship. Oddly, Seton Hall could only place fifth despite being the conference’s third-best team at worst. Expect this year’s championship to revert to the norm: as in, Georgetown and Seton Hall taking the top two spots. Both have improved significantly (with the Pirates jumping more than 80 places in the rankings) and are the conference’s clear two best teams at the moment. But which of that duo will win this fifth fight? It’s anyone’s guess with the two groups so close. By a hair, we’re going with the defending champs at the moment.
Pick to win: Georgetown