Monday, October 24, 2011
Preseason Big East Power Rankings
1. UConn. They’ll need to make up for thirty points a game, but with the additions of Drummond, Boatright, and Daniels this team has a lot of incoming talent. Pair that up with Napier, Lamb, Oriakhi, and role players and they’ll be able to find the missing points.
2. Syracuse. The Orange have a solid nucleus of Seniors like Scoop Jardine and Kris Josheph, emerging players like Feb Melo and C.J. Flair, and high profile recruits like Rakeem Christmas. It should add up to another solid year for Syracuse.
3. Pittsburgh. Everyone knows to never count out Jamie Dixon. He has a star at the point in Ashton Gibbs and a veteran man down low in Nasir Robinson who still has a bad taste left in his mouth on how the end of the season played out. They have the Big East right where they want them as underdogs.
4. Louisville. This is a mystery team. They could become a National Championship contender if Kyle Kuric and Peyton Siva step up and lead this team. The major question will be their rebounding and they hope Chane Behanan can be that player who can help right away.
5. West Virginia. They had a down year last season but they look primed to bounce back. Lead by Darryl Bryant and Kevin Jones, this team plays hard and will grind out victories. Keep an eye on Tommie McCune, who might be a hidden gem for Bob Huggins.
6. St. John’s. Lavin has put St. John’s on the map and it is great for the Big East. They have the best home field advantage in the league and with the young talent that the Red Storm have acquired, they are going to be a fun team to watch. They’ll have some growing pains but this is a dangerous squad with a super star Maurice Harkless at its helm.
7. Notre Dame. This is another team that can go either way. Tim Abromatis will need some help and Pat Connaughton will need to contribute right away. They’ll need to keep games in the mid-fifties and the Irish aren’t known for their defense.
8. Villanova. Isaiah Armwood, Dominic Cheeks, and Mouphtaou Yarou make up a nice unit but Jay Wright will need to find consistent offense. His team has been counted out numerous times to only prove the naysayer wrong.
9. Cincinnati . Yes they have tasted NCAA success and have two returning starters in Yancy Gates and Cashmere Wright, but duplicating that type of success will be difficult. It is the lack of depth in the front court that might be their ultimate undoing and Jermaine Sanders will need to be a consistent piece of the puzzle to move this team up.
10. Marquette. Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder, and Junior Cadougan are all returning and this team plays hard under Buzz Williams, but will it be enough to be competitive in the Big East? If Jamil Wilson and Juan Anderson emerge as players than this team can surprise the league.
11. Georgetown. Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson will lead a Hoyas squad. They have to many holes to fill and they’ll need instant help from three freshman in Otto Porter, Mikael Hopkins, and Jabril Trawick.
12. Providence. Ed Cooley will try to get a very young team back to respectability, but has an upward climb. Vincent Council, Gerard Coleman, and Kadeem Batts are going to need to step up now that Marshon Brooks is playing at the next level.
13. Seton Hall. If Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore take their games to the next level than the Pirates have a chance to climb up the standings but that is a big task with so many freshman that will need to contribute right away.
14. South Florida. The Bulls have talent but they haven’t had success. Augustus Gilchrist will headline a team that returns a lot of the team but doesn’t have a floor leader. It will take some time for this team to find their legs. By late in the season this team will be a tough play.
15. Rutgers. They have a heralded recruiting class but unless Kadeem Jack, Mules Mack, Eli Carter and Jerome Seagears buys into the defensive mindset that Mike Rice is trying to instill then this team will be struggling for wins.
16, DePaul. Cleveland Melvin came along late in the season but will it be enough to take the Blue Demons out of the Big East basement? It might but he’ll need Jeremiah Kelly and Krys Faber to improve and to play much better on the defensive end. They can not give up 76.7 points per game and expect to win ballgames.