Final Standings Predictions
The Cardinals were the last Big East team standing a year ago, and they replace the only departed starter from that team with the reigning National High School Player of the Year.
I was never as enamored with the Huskies as the rest of the country seemed to be last season, but A.J. Price was the best point guard in the league, and Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien might be the best inside combo in the country.
I think Sam Young is the best overall player in the league, and DeJuan Blair is almost an automatic 15 and eight, but one of their young guards is going to have to step up and take some of the pressure off of Levance Fields for this to be one of the four teams that begins its Big East Tournament on Thursday.
4. Notre Dame
The Irish were as disappointing as any team in the NCAA Tournament last season, but that shouldn't negate everything else that Harangody, McAlarney, Jackson and company accomplished.
Watch this team struggle early and then be playing as well as any in the conference once February rolls around. DaJuan Summers will do his best Jeff Green impersonation, Chris Wright and Austin Freeman will prove why they were burger boys, and Greg Monroe will do as much as a freshman can possibly do in the JT III system.
The three guards are fantastic and the evolution of Lazar Hayward was the reason the Golden Eagles were so tough down the stretch in '08, but you can't win this league without solid post players, and there's nothing Buzz Williams can do about that right now.
Over the last two months of the '07-'08 season, Paul Harris quietly started to emerge as the player so many thought he would be right out of the gate. If he and Arinze Onuaku can just be slightly above average, then Jim Boeheim has the guards - assuming Flynn and Devendorf can peacefully co-exist - to decrease the number of heart attacks in Syracuse drastically this Selection Sunday.
8. West Virginia
The departure of Joe Alexander means that there will be no team in the league more dependent on a freshman than Bob Huggins'. The positive: he's really, really good.
Perhaps this is merely the product of my anti-Scottie Reynolds bias, but it sure seems like a win over a 13-seed and an overrated Clemson squad has generated an inordinate amount of preseason buzz that wouldn't have been there otherwise.
The presence of Geoff McDermott, Sharaud Curry and Weyinmi Efejuku takes care of the talent issue. Whether or not reigning National Coach of the Year Keno Davis can be the difference between contender and perpetual underachiever is still up in the air.
Last season proved two things: Deonta Vaughn can score and Mick Cronin can coach. Newcomers Mike Williams and Yancy Gates hope to be the keys to making the Bearcats nationally relevant again.
12. Seton Hall
Losing Brian Laing is a huge hit, but Paul Gause is still one of the two best defensive guards in the conference, and Eugene Harvey has the potential to be amazing on any given night. This will again be a team capable of beating teams well above them in the Big East standings, and losing to anyone sitting below them.
All of the sudden Fred Hill has a roster filled with players that casual fans have heard of. JR Inman is a rock, and a quartet of young talented guards have the potential to keep this team out of action on the first day of the Big East Tournament for the first time since the Quincy Douby era ended.
Mac Koshwal will again average somewhere around a double-double, and Dar Tucker will emerge as one of the best offensive players in the league, but there's simply not much there outside of the sophomore duo.
15. St. John's
Anthony Mason Jr. is one of the 20 best players in the conference. So there's that.
16. South Florida
Dominique Jones is great, and Mike Mercer could help this team win a couple of games it otherwise wouldn't have, but in a league where so many teams lost so little, having to replace Kentrell Gransberry is too large a hurdle for Stan Heath to hope to overcome.
Preseason Player of the Year: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
I don't think there's any way he can do what he did a year ago, but you have to give him the benefit of the doubt until the games start being played.
Predicted Player of the Year: Sam Young, Pittsburgh
The most complete player in the league.
Predicted Big East Tournament Final: Pittsburgh over Georgetown
At this point, why fight it?
1. A.J. Price, Connecticut
2. Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
3. Levance Fields, Pittsburgh
4. Dominic James, Marquette
5. Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
6. Tory Jackson, Notre Dame
7. Andre McGee, Louisville
8. Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall
9. Edgar Sosa, Louisville
10. Sharaud Curry, Providence
11. Chris Wright, Georgetown
12. Mike Coburn, Rutgers
13. Chris Howard, South Florida
14. Joe Mazzulla, West Virginia
15. Anthony Farmer, Rutgers
1. Jerel McNeal, Marquette
2. Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
3. Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame
4. Eric Devendorf, Syracuse
5. Dominique Jones, South Florida
6. Jerry Smith, Louisville
7. Jerome Dyson, Connecticut
8. Dar Tucker, Depaul
9. Alex Ruoff, West Virginia
10. Jesse Sapp, Georgetown
11. Paul Gause, Seton Hall
12. Wesley Matthews, Marquette
13. Corey Fisher, Villanova
14. Kemba Walker, Connecticut
15. Corey Chandler, Rutgers
1. Sam Young, Pittsburgh
2. Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
3. Earl Clark, Louisville
4. Terrence Williams, Louisville
5. Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
6. DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
7. Paul Harris, Syracuse
8. Lazar Hayward, Marquette
9. Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
10. Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia
11. JR Inman, Rutgers
12. Geoff McDermott, Providence
13. Robert Mitchell, Seton Hall
14. Austin Freeman, Georgetown
15. Dante Cunningham, Villanova
1. DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
2. Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
3. Samardo Samuels, Louisville
4. Greg Monroe, Georgetown
5. Mac Koshwal, Depaul
6. Randall Hanke, Providence
7. Hamady N'Diaye, Rutgers
8. Mike Davis, Seton Hall
9. Greg Echenique, Rutgers
10. Casiem Drummond, Villanova
1. Samardo Samuels, Louisville
2. Greg Monroe, Georgetown
3. Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
4. Kemba Walker, Connecticut
5. Yancy Gates, Cincinnati
6. Ater Majok, Connecticut
7. Greg Echenique, Rutgers
8. Mike Rosario, Rutgers
9. Mookie Jones, Syracuse
10. Terrence Jennings, Louisville
11. Kris Joseph, Syracuse
12. Henry Sims, Georgetown
13. Jason Clark, Georgetown
14. Kevin Jones, West Virginia
15. Nasir Robinson, Pitsburgh
Predicted Freshman of the Year: Devin Ebanks
Ebanks is too good not to take full advantage of the enormous green light he'll have in Morgantown.
1. Robert Mitchell, Seton Hall
2. Mike Williams, Cincinnati
3. Mike Mercer, South Florida
4. Jermaine Dixon, Pittsburgh
5. Reginald Delk, Louisville
6. Alejandro Rivas Sanchez, South Florida
7. Julian Vaughn, Georgetown
8. Dee Proby, West Virginia
9. Charles Okwandu, Connecticut
10. Steve Toyloy, Cincinnati
Top Five Non-Conference Games
1. Notre Dame at UCLA (Feb. 7)
2. Connecticut at Gonzaga (Dec. 20)
3. Georgetown at Duke (Jan. 17)
4. Villanova vs. Texas (Dec. 9)
5. Marquette at Tennessee (Dec. 16)
Top Five Conference Games
1. Connecticut at Louisville (Feb. 2)
2. Connecticut at Pittsburgh (March 7)
3. Pittsburgh at Louisville (Jan. 17)
4. Notre Dame at Connecticut (Feb. 28)
5. Louisville at Notre Dame (Feb. 12)
Five More Conference Games of Interest
1. Providence at Connecticut (Jan. 31)
2. Marquette at Louisville (March 1)
3. Rutgers at Seton Hall (Jan. 29)
4. Georgetown at Syracuse (Feb 14)
5. Georgetown at Connecticut (Dec. 29)
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Sam Young, Pittsburgh
A.J. Price, Connecticut
DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
Earl Clark, Louisville
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
Jerel McNeal, Marquette
Terrence Williams, Louisville
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Levance Fields, Pittsburgh
Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame
DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
Jeff Adrien, Connecticut