Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Big East Power Rankings

1. UConn. They played two top 25 teams and won both convincingly. Kemba Walker looks like the real deal. Price hasn’t hit his stride yet but Thabeet and Dyson are playing fantastic ball now. They run at a frantic pace and are ranked 3rd in turnover margin in the conference, mostly due to the full court pressure. A good sign for this team is their 6th rank in 3-point percentage. If they can hit from outside, then this team will be very dangerous. It is their 15th ranked perimeter defense that is their Achilles heal.

2. Pittsburgh. Sam Young is having a tremendous start to the season, scoring 19 points a game and The Beast, DeJuan Blair, is chipping in with 15 points and 12 boards a game. With Levance Fields handling the helm of the offense with 6.3 assists a game, Pittsburgh looks like the powerhouse we all expected. If they can hit the outside shot and dominate on the boards then this team will be at battling for first all season.

3. Syracuse. It is good to see the orange back. But it could be a quick stay at the top if they don’t straighten out that defense, coming in at 14th in the league. They are playing great offense and rank 1st in assists a game at 18.8. Jonny Flynn doesn’t tire and plays all but 4 minutes a game. Arinze Onuaku has become a major player on the team.

4. Notre Dame. The loss to UNC didn’t hurt them and showed them what they need to improve on to compete at that high a level, but who is at that point. We know Mcalarney and Harangody are the major pieces to the offense, but Tory Jackson is having a fantastic start to the season with 14.3 points a game and 5.7 assists a game. For Notre Dame to make it to the top they’ll need Zeller and Ayers to contribute more.

5. Villanova. Donte Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds are the offense but it is their 5th ranked defense that has them in the upper echelon of the Big East. They are the little team that could and play great swarming defense and are knocking down shots.

6. West Virginia. They always find themselves in the middle of the pack come preseason but by the time they have some games under their belt, they claw their way up the rankings. Alex Ruoff is playing excellent ball and John Flowers is scoring too. They are leading the conference in turnover margin, at a staggering +8.8 a game They are team rebounding but without a strong presence inside, they rely too heavily on their outside shooting. But if they are hitting, then they are a tough out.

7. Louisville. Falling fast, the Cardinals are having their fair share of problems, starting with rebounding. Without Terence Williams this team would be in a larger hole. Samardo Samuels is the real deal but with his size, he needs to rebound much better. We’ve seen Louisville struggle at the start of last season to then turn the ship around and make a strong push in the tournament.

8. Georgetown. They are struggling with finding the defense that they had with the previous regime and they are depending too much on their sensational freshman Greg Monroe for their offense. They are also getting killed on the glass and need to shore that up. Chris Wright has developed into a nice player and Jessie Sapp is playing great defense.

9. Marquette. Marquette is struggling defensively. They are 15th in the conference and need to fix it before they play far more superior talent. While Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, Lazar Hayward, and Dominique James are tearing it up offensively, if they don’t stop teams from .426 shooting, it will be a tough year.

10. Cincinnati. While Deonta Vaughn is Cincinnati’s offense, their defense is carrying this team. Yancy Gates is a good looking freshman and Alvin Mitchell is becoming a sharp shooter. If they can carry their defensive effort into league play, then this team could make some noise.

11. DePaul. Dar Tucker is doing all he can to carry his team but they are young. Mac Koshwal is legit and a great presence inside. They are a scrappy club and could knock out a top echelon team if they are overlooked.

12. Seton Hall. The Pirates are led by Jeremy Hazell and John Garcia. Their only loss was to a pretty good Memphis team. They are ranked 1st in perimeter defense but only 11th in total field goal defense. Someone has to step up and help Garcia with some scoring.

13. St. John’s. DJ Kennedy is doing everything for this team. He is leading them in scoring and rebounding. Malik Boothe is emerging as a solid guard. Justin Burrell needs to help out more. In most of the league statistics, St. John’s hovers in the middle of the pack.

14. USF. With such a young team, everyone expected this team to struggle offensively and they have, coming in dead last in the Big East. But they also hold the top spot on defense, holding teams to shooting .323 a game. They’ve attempted the fewest three-pointers in the conference. Dominique Jones is an elite player and does most of his damage inside the three-point line.

15. Rutgers. They have to much talent to be struggling this bad. They play solid defense with Hamady Ndiaye roaming the paint and Rosario the highly touted freshman on the perimeter. He’s the second highest scoring freshman in the Big East, behind only Samardo Samuels. They need JR Inman to step up and help him out.

16. Providence. They can score all they want but with a defense that horrible, they are in huge trouble. Teams are getting whatever they want. Geoff McDermott needs to step it up. They are playing hard but aren’t gelling and that’s not good with a new coach and a veteran roster. Randall Hanke is quietly having a solid season and in the top 5 in field goal percentage.

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