Big East Pre-season Basketball predictions

Via Zagsblog:

NEW YORK — Pittsburgh is the choice to win the 2010-11 BIG EAST men’s basketball regular-season crown in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll.  The Panthers, who finished 25-9 overall and tied for second place in the conference at 13-5 last season, collected 12 first-place votes from the head coaches who did not place their own teams on their ballots.

The Panthers return four starters from last year’s squad, including Preseason All-BIG EAST selection Ashton Gibbs.  Coach Jamie Dixon’s club sits atop the preseason poll for the first time since 2006-07.  Pitt is the only team in the conference to win at least 10 IG EAST contests in each of the last nine seasons.

 Villanova follows Pitt in the poll in second place.  The Wildcats had 208 points which included one first-place vote. Villanova tied the Panthers for second place in BIG EAST play last year with a 13-5 record and is coming off a 25-8 season.  This year, the Wildcats are expected to depend on senior guard Corey Fisher, a Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team member, for production and leadership.

Syracuse, last year’s regular-season league champion, was picked third.  The Orange corralled a pair of first-place votes and a total of 187 points in the poll.  In 2009-10, SU compiled a 15-3 BIG EAST mark after being picked sixth in the preseason poll.  Coach Jim Boeheim directed Syracuse to a 30-5 overall record.

The coaches placed Georgetown fourth.  The Hoyas, who can lean on Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year Austin Freeman and three other returning starters, totaled 173 points in the poll.  Georgetown finished 23-11 last year.

West Virginia was slotted for fifth place.  The Mountaineers won their first BIG EAST Championship last March and advanced to the NCAA Final Four.  WVU’s final record was 31-7 overall, including 13-5 in conference play.  This season, the Mountaineers can build around junior forward Kevin Jones, a Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team selection.

St. John’s received one first-place vote and finished sixth in the poll.  The Red Storm have not been picked higher than ninth in the preseason poll since 2002-03.  St, John’s has 10 seniors and a new coach, Steve Lavin.  The league coaches feel the Red Storm are capable of making a big jump.  St. John’s finished 6-12 in league play last year and 17-16 overall.

Notre Dame was in seventh place with 123 points.  The Fighting Irish were 23-12 last year and 10-8 in the league standings.  Louisville and Marquette tied for eighth place in the poll just behind the Irish with 121 points.  The Cardinals and Golden Eagles also tied in the standings last year at 11-7.

The coaches put Connecticut 10th and Seton Hall 11th.  Both teams were NIT participants last season.  The Huskies, who finished 18-16, had 113 points, while the Pirates, who were 19-13, garnered 104 points.

Cincinnati took 12th place in the poll with 91 points.  Last year, the Bearcats tied Connecticut for 11th place in the standings with a 7-11 BIG EAST mark.  Cincinnati finished 19-16 overall and made the NIT.

The coaches have tabbed Providence for 14th place followed by Rutgers and DePaul.

1. Pittsburgh  (12 votes)

2. Villanova (1)

3. Syracuse (3)

4. Georgetown

5. West Virginia

6. St. John’s (1)

7. Notre Dame

8(t). Louisville

Marquette

10. UConn

11. Seton Hall

12. Cincinnati

13. USF

14. Providence

15. Rutgers

16. DePaul

…This is a really interesting list. To be honest, I see some flaws in this list. Let me start out with the school I go to, Marquette. Marquette finished 4th in the league and they have two returning players who are going to be huge contributors in Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler. This team is young and fast and Buzz Williams really knows how to coach and teach them. I do not see them finishing 8th but 5th or 4th in the league. Remember they were supposed to finish 13th last year. Look what happened to that. It’s the Big East, anything can happen. I do like where St. John’s is on the list. I like Steve Lavin and his system with the senior leadership he has this year. I can see them being a sleeper in this league. What I do find interesting is who gave them the  one 1st place vote? It’s kind of peculiar. Also, I can see Rutgers and Depaul moving up that list because of the new coaches coming in. I think Mike Rice for Rutgers will propel his team to wins and make them a legit threat in years to come. I also see Depaul being better than they actually are. With Oliver Purnell running the staff from Clemson I can really see them winning but not going far in the post season tournaments. They are a team that can surprise with their guard play. Overall, the Big East is taking a huge drop because of all the players that left via NBA Draft or because of seniority. I feel that this won’t be the best basketball conference in College Basketball and I feel that winning this league is up to any team and the way they compete. I am already excited for college basketball. Let’s get the balls rolling…

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