Big East Breakdown

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By David K.

The Big East replaces the Pac-10 as the toughest conference in the country this season.  Seven of the pre-season top 25 teams are from the Big East (including three of the top five) and realistically, nine of the league’s sixteen squads could be headed to the Big Dance.  As a Marquette alum, it will be a treat to see my Golden Eagles battle it out with some of the best teams in the country on a weekly basis.  For the record, I have four of my Elite Eight teams coming from the Big East.
 

NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS

1. UConn- The Huskies return all five starters including 7’3 junior Hasheem Thabeet, a force in the middle who’s gotten progressively better on the offensive end every season.  Add in senior power forward Jeff Adrien, point guard A.J. Price and a very athletic, deep roster and UConn should be poised for a trip to the Final Four.  (True story: the only two times I’ve ever won an NCAA Tourney pool is when UConn won the crown, so I’m all for a deep run from the Huskies.)

2. Pitt- After injuries riddled their roster for a good chunk of the ’07-‘08 season, the Panthers came on strong late and claimed the Big East Tournament title.  Three key ingredients from that roster are back in swingman Sam Young, who should be one of the conference’s elite scorers.  Levance Fields will need to stay healthy for Pitt to be a serious contender.

3. Notre Dame- Reigning conference player of the year Luke Harangody is the A.J. Pierzynski of college basketball.  You love to hate him, but would also love to have him on your team.  All-Big East first teamer Kyle McAlarney is also back giving the Irish size, shooters, and a solid floor leader in point guard Tory Jackson. 

4. Marquette- Athleticism will have to carry the Golden Eagles this season since they are even thinner in the post than they were last season.  Dominique James, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Lazar Hayward are all back and will cause fits on the perimeter for opposing teams on both ends of the floor.  Tom Crean’s departure could have been the perfect motivator for this team.

5. Louisville- I am just not feeling Rick Pitino’s Cardinals this season.  They were ranked third in the pre-season national polls, but I think the loss of David Padgett will affect this team more than they realize.  (Yes, I am serious.)  Louisville’s guard play must be more consistent this season if they are to live up to their pre-season praise.

6. Syracuse- Injuries, a lack of depth, and inexperience hurt ‘Cuse last season.  All those problems are no more as the Orange have everyone back except Donte Greene. They also return two key players from injury and should be able to go nine deep without missing much of a beat.  They could really surprise a lot of people nationally.

7. Villanova– ‘Nova has a very versatile, potent starting five led by junior guard Scottie Reynolds who has never met a shot he didn’t like.  Depth will be an issue for the Wildcats which could prove costly in the deep Big East. 

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SHOULD BE DANCING

8. Georgetown- No Big East team took a bigger talent loss hit this off-season than JT3’s Hoyas, both to graduation and transfers.  G-town certainly won’t be in the national title picture this season, but return enough quality players and have some freshman contributors who should get this team into the Big Dance.
 

BUBBLE TEAM

9. West Virginia- If Joe Alexander had returned to the Mountaineers instead of going pro, I would seriously consider Bob Huggins crew as a Final Four contender.  Still, almost heaven, West Virginia brings back a talented swingman in Alex Ruoff and my pick for conference freshman of the year, Devin Ebanks.  The Big East sent 8 teams to the tourney last year, and the Mountaineers could be the ninth to get in this season.

NIT BOUND

10. Cincinnati- Cincy is a very young team with only three upperclassmen.  Mick Cronin has this team on the right track, but is still probably a year away from reaching the upper half of the conference.

11. DePaul- The Blue Demons are in a similar spot as Cincinnati where the roster is compiled of mostly underclassmen.  There is definitely young talent, but just too much inexperience at this point to keep up with the toughest conference in the country.

12. Providence- The Friars dropped their season opener at home to Mercer.  Not a good way to start the season.
 

NOT MAKING THE CONFERENCE TOURNEY

13-16. St. John’s, Seton Hall, Rutgers, South Florida- The bottom four teams in the Big East don’t make the conference tournament, and because these teams are so far behind the other 12, I am just going to lump then in one group and not waste my time writing about schools who aren’t worthy of the effort.
 

1st Team

Jeff Adrien-UCONN 
Earl Clark-LOU
Johnny Flynn-CUSE
Luke Harangody-ND
Lazar Hayward-MARQ 
Jerel McNeal-MAR
Scottie Reynolds-VIL
Alex Ruoff-WV 
Hasheem Thabeet-UCONN
Deonta Vaughn-CIN
Sam Young-PITT
 

2nd Team

DeJaun Blair-PITT 
Eric Devendorf-CUSE
Corey Fisher-NOVA
Dominique James-MARQ
Dominique Jones-USF
Anthony Mason Jr-STJ
Kyle McAlarney-ND
A.J. Price- UCONN
DeJuan Summers-GEO
Dar Tucker-DEP 
Terrence Williams-LOU
 

Rookie Team

Daryl Bryant-WV
Dion Dixon-CIN
Jermaine Dixon-PITT
Devin Ebanks-WV
Yancey Gates-CIN
Terrence Jennings-LOU
Kris Joseph-CUSE
Greg Monroe-GT
Samardo Samuels-LOU 
Mike Rosario-RUT
Kemba Walker-UCONN

Player of the Year: Harangody (disgusts me to admit this)

Rookie of the Year: Ebanks

Coach of the Year: Jim Calhoun, UConn

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Comments

  1. I think a Big East Alum, Dave’s man-crush Dwyane Wade inspired me to coin the phrase “the shot heard round the SICA” Being in Lexington and Concord reminded me of Emerson’s “the shot heard round the world” so…

    I’m claiming “the shot heard round the SICA” as that clutch midrange jumper Wade (greatest player in SICA history) down the stretch of the Gold Medal game in Beijing. D Wade’s 18-22 footer with about 3 minutes to go pretty much clinched a world-changing victory in a crucial battle for U-S-A U-S-A. I’m sure SICA chick/EIU Cheerleader will agree with me

  2. Ghost in the Machine says

    The bottom 4 teams in the conference do make the conference tourney as off this season. Still not worthy of writing about, though.

  3. Peter Christian says

    Ebanks as Big East ROY over Samuels and Walker? Ballsy.

  4. ballsy is what I do… forgot about the expanded Big East tourney, dumb new rule

  5. C’mon Dave, you’ve been watching him for three years now you should know it’s Dominic James not Dominique James. That’s like people spelling DW’s first name Dwayne.

  6. Word editor must have auto changed. I know better than that. I cant belive both Dave and I missed that.

    sometimes mistakes are made here at TSB

  7. yeah, that’s pretty awful on my part… I blame the Human Highlight Film…

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