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Your Team Sucks: Big East Hoops Preview

Your Big East team sucks because reasons.

Michael Heiman

Every respected college hoops writer in the country plus Mike Rutherford has already released their preseason rankings, player superlative lists and nuanced previews. So, why would Bearcats Blog's cardscott5 and I feel compelled to write ~3,000 words on the Big East (again)? So you can make fun of us in February for hyping Mike Rice's coaching, Notre Dame role players and for blocking DePaul's shine. The Blue Demons are going to be a powerhouse, y'all and you're just too obtuse to see it.

First, our preseason team rankings and player of the year picks:


1. Syracuse
2. Louisville
3. Pittsburgh
4. Notre Dame
5. Cincinnati
5. Georgetown
7. Marquette
8. St. John's
9. South Florida
10. UConn
11. Villanova
12. Providence
13. Rutgers
14. DePaul
15. Seton Hall

Big East Player of the Year: Jack Cooley, Notre Dame
Big East Defensive Player of the Year: Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall
Big East Rookie of the Year: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown


1. Louisville
2. Syracuse
3. Cincinnati
4. Notre Dame
5. Marquette
6. Pittsburgh
7. Georgetown
8. Rutgers
9. St. John's
10. UConn
11. South Florida
12. Villanova
13. Providence
14. Seton Hall
15. DePaul

BEPOY: Otto Porter, Georgetown
BEDPOY: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
BEROY: Steven Adams, Pitt

Now for the part where we explain why your team sucks:

Lville_mediumLOUISVILLE is an interesting team to watch this year. For the first time in the Rick Pitino era, they have a load of expectations thrust upon them. Peyton Siva was picked to be the Big East Player of the Year. Interesting honor for a player who saw his possession usage, offensive rating, and most of his shooting percentages fall last year, while his turnover rate rose. The most important Cardinal is Gorgui Dieng. If he develops a solid offensive game to go with Chane Behanan on the block, Louisville will be nearly unstoppable down low. Even if Dieng doesn't improve much, just what they have on the block is best in the league. Louisville could go back to the Final Four. They could also lose early in the tournament. Remember they had a tough go against New Mexico. I'm not saying Louisville is overrated, they are loaded everywhere, but we've seen better teams not be able to handle the burden of being a top team. I kind of am saying they are overrated by that logic. Having Wayne Blackshear for an entire season and George Mason transfer and new Rick Pitino greatest player of all time Luke Hancock should sure up the Chris Smith spot in the rotation. Russ Smith is going to Russ it up off the bench. Montrezl Harrell was a big recruit and I didn't even mention him yet. Louisville has talent overflowing with their experienced upper class. They should win the league. ~cardscott5

Cuse_medium SYRACUSE is looked to be the second option at the top of the standings. They lose Kris Joseph, Fab Melo, Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine, but they reload with DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant as top recruits. You have Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas, both McDonald's AAs ready to step in. James Southerland could be a dark horse BE Player of the Year. He's put up offensive ratings over 120 the last 2 seasons. He takes about half of his shots from 3, where he's a decent shooter, but you would think someone with his talent and size could develop a more balanced game. We saw some of that in the NCAA tournament against Asheville and Kansas State. CJ Fair is expected to break out, and he should with more responsibility but I think he and Southerland could be a great 1-2 punch. Plus, Brandon Triche isn't Scoop Jardine. ~cs5

Pitt_mediumIf this were the NBA, PITTSBURGH would be the up-and-coming team coming out of a 30-game slump, getting healthy at the right time, who just made a key acquisition in free agency and look poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. Some folks reacted in surprise to Pitt opening as the second odds-on favorite to win the Big East at 5Dimes sportsbook earlier this week, but I think it's fair to look at last season as an aberration. Their front court will be long, freshman Steven Adams is the preseason ROY for good reason and PF Talib Zanna has improved his jumper & will be asked to score more. Lamar Patterson can be the guy who steps into the volume scorer void left by Asthon Gibbs but I see more of a committee approach from Tray Woodall, Zanna, J.J. Moore and transfer Trey Zeigler, who are all capable of averaging double digit points when asked. In somewhat of a surprise, it looks as though freshman PG James Robinson will start alongside Tray Woodall, likely relegating Moore & Zeigler to reserve roles for now. That will be interesting to monitor as the season starts. I'll agree with most of the national college hoops media, Pitt is "back" and should win at least 10 conference games and finish in the top third of the Big East this year. ~ULhothot

Nd_mediumI think I like NOTRE DAME but I still have trouble figuring out if Mike Brey is overrated, underrated or properly rated. As Bill Parcells would suggest, "You are what your record says you are" so I s'pose that makes Brey a good coach. When you look the roster, there's not a wealth of depth there but Brey's Burn strategy doesn't require it. Jerian Grant and Jack Cooley were breakout studs last year in conference play and when you look at Cooley's stats, he was near the top of the league in almost every major category in terms of efficiency. If one were inclined to make projections based on numbers, one might say Cooley has a good shot at earning Big East POY and first team all-conference honors. Computers love him. One guy I love is freshman "Killa" Cam Biedscheid, who won't start but will add a sexy dimension off the bench in attacking the rim and finishing in transition. Once he adds some muscle and learns to be more patient defensively, Cam will be a special player. In the ACC. Ugh. As for other starters, Eric Atkins will be a solid distributor once again but needs to take and hit the open shot this year to maximize his role. 6th year senior Scott Martin won't wow you but will be the coach on the floor and Pat Connaughton will play the complimentary jump shooter role and may end up splitting time at the 3 with Biedscheid by season's end. Junior transfer Garrick Sherman will be an interesting role player; his footwork and low post moves looked a little rusty in Notre Dame's preseason exhibition games, but Big Sherm should be serviceable as Martin and Cooley's backup. Freshman Zach Auguste is talented enough to play right away for the Irish but was slowed by an injury this preseason. I think he'll have a similar impact off the bench as Biedscheid once he's in game shape. I'm not confident this is a Top 25 team but I can't see the Irish finishing outside the top third of the Big East and I see somewhere around 11 or 12 wins and a Sweet 16 team. ~ULhh

Cincy_mediumCINCINNATI is a team that might be a little hard to get a handle on. They have a ton of experience at the guard spots with Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker. The guards and the offense should be excellent. Cincinnati's problem comes on defense and with the bigs. Cheikh Mbodj changed his body, but he doesn't look to have changed his game. Justin Jackson is a defensive energizer bunny, but his offense is a huge question mark. UC could get some help with JUCO transfer Titus Rubles, who looked impressive in the exhibition games. It's pretty simple to break down UC though. They will go as far as the guards take them. With the right breaks, they could go far. ~cs5

Marqet_mediumMARQUETTE is one of the hardest teams for me to project. How do you replace Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom? Not just on the court, either--I have concerns about how this Buzz Williams' team will react to consecutive losses or early adversity. And the last-minute Todd Mayo academic ineligibility news can't help, right? That said, there's still plenty of talent left over. A post-hype Vander Blue will step into an increased scoring role and his backcourt partner Junior Cadougan will be a steady distributor running the point. I like Davante Gardner's low post skills and Jamil Wilson's inside-outside game a lot, but I'm curious to see how well their unique dimensions will mesh together on the court as full-time starters. 5th-year senior Trent Lockett was a high percentage shooter at Arizona State and should start or at least get starter's minutes right away with Mayo out of the picture. At the 5, Chris Otule is Marquette's only true center and I'm pretty impressed he's still playing at this level after all the injuries he's sustained and the fact he only has one functioning eye. The frontcourt depth isn't deep this year, so the Golden Eagles need Otule to stay healthy and give them 20+ minutes per game. I see Marquette getting 8 or 9 conference wins and finishing in the middle of the Big East this year. The non-conference schedule is tough enough to earn an NCAA Tournament bid if they play well early on and I ultimately see Marquette finishing just above the bubble this year. ~ULhh

Gtown_mediumGo ahead and sharpie in GEORGETOWN for 10 conference wins because it's what they do. In eight seasons under John Thompson III, the Hoyas suffered just one losing record in conference play (7-11 in 2009) and thrive under John Thompson III's singular recruiting philosophy: lead the league in height per position. Seriously, watch them them use 6-9 Otto Porter at the point at times this year. JTIII will totally do this and he will laugh as height-challenged teams like Rutgers try to match up with Porter. Speaking of Porter, as the future NBA first round draft pick goes this season, so will the Hoyas. Returnees Greg Whittington, Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins should round out the staring front court. In the backcourt, Markel Starks is a capable point guard, but I see freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera overtaking him as the main ball-handler by season's end. In fact, I think DSR will contend for Big East Rookie of the Year. He good. I like the Hoyas to win 10 conference games again and make it to the Sweet 16. If Porter and DSR stick around, this is a Final Four team in 2014. ~ULhh

Stjohn_mediumST. JOHN'S has Steve Lavin back this season, which should make it more memorable than last season. I suppose they had a lottery pick in Moe Harkless so it was kind of memorable, but they were not good. St John's still isn't incredibly deep, but they go can 8 deep on the roster, which they couldn't do last year. Amir Garrett looks to be the star of the Red Storm. He played decently last year and seems to have improved his game over the summer. JaKarr Sampson was a 4 star recruit and has started both exhibition games. He is a guy to watch on the block. So is fellow freshman Chris Obekpa, who is noted for his shot blocking. ~cs5

Sfla_mediumLast year, SOUTH FLORIDA's favorable conference schedule paired with underrated talent led to one of the bigger surprises in recent Big East history. Nobody could've predicted a 12-6 conference record and a Sweet 16 run and Stan Heath worked miracles turning a volatile but athletic roster into a Wisconsin-esque plodding force. PG Anthony Collins --who began the season as the 9th man and didn't play a single minute of USF's first six games--finished the year as one of the top five point guards in the conference. His own coach didn't see that coming. My favorite part of USF's run to the Sweet 16 was hearing college hoops pundits dismissing their style as ugly or gimmicky and then hearing opposing coaches talk about how nervous they were about playing against it. Alas, it sounds like Heath will run a little faster this season, but the major pieces like Collins, Victor Rudd, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Jawanza(!) Poland are still there and Heath brought in new faces like Javontae Hawkins, Musa Abdul-Aleem and Jordan Omogbehin who will all get a shot at big roles. I don't see 12 wins or a surefire NCAA Tournament team this season, but I like the Bulls to finish the conference schedule with 8 or 9 victories and, assuming they fare well in non-conference play, generate some bubble talk again in March. ~ULhh

Rut_mediumMike Rice has RUTGERS on an upward trend. One of the biggest questions in the Big East is if that trend will be towards the NCAA tournament. I am higher on Rutgers than Hot Hot, so clearly they will make a run. They have a more experienced roster than you would think. Dane Miller is in his 18th year, Kadeem Jack played a lot of minutes last year, as did Eli Carter, Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears. All of those players are sophomores. All of those players will get a lot of minutes. I like Carter and Seagears a lot. If Rutgers can get some maturity, they could be in line to compete for a spot in the top half of the league and a spot in the NCAA tournament. ~cs5

Uconn_mediumTeams picked at the bottom of the league seemingly don't have a lot to play for, but UCONN really doesn't have anything to play for this season. They can't play in the Big East tournament or the NCAA tournament. First year coach Kevin Ollie has his work cut out for him. Ollie has Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright as his starting guards, which should help things out in the non-conference. The star of the exhbition games was Omar Calhoun, who averaged 22 points a game on 8-12 shooting from 3. He could be someone to watch. He'll probably break some law and have to stay in Germany so this sentence will be worthless! ~cs5

Nova_mediumVILLANOVA has certainly fallen off. They have Mo Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston in the front court, which looks very nice. James Bell started a majority of games at guard last season and should be firmly in the lineup this year. Top 50 recruit Ryan Arcidiacono started the exhibition game and shot the ball a lot. Jay Wright played 9 guys at least 14 minutes in the exhibition game. I think he doesn't know who is going to play that much outside of Yarou and Darrun Hilliard, who I didn't mention until now. Hilliard is a guard who played small minutes last year, but should be a bigger role this year. ~cs5

Prov_mediumPROVIDENCE is a team with multiple guys you'd want on your fantasy roster but won't contend for a conference title or NCAA tournament bid. Five-star recruit Ricardo Ledo isn't walking through that door, McDonald's All-American Kris Dunn is injured and the Friars are left with just seven scholarship players to start the year. You want it to be one way, but it's the other, Ed Cooley. Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton and LaDontae Henton are talented, mature players but they've already tried to carry this team on their backs last year and failed. I see more of the same this year, unfortunately. When Dunn returns and sophomore transfer Sidiki Johnson becomes eligible in December, things could break well for Providence, but they need other guys to step up now. Guys like Kadeem Batts, who was suspended for internal reasons for the fall semester last season but has reportedly worked on his attitude and game. I'm not sold yet, but there's not a lot of depth at the 5 so Batts has to become a reliable source of rebounds and defensive deterrent for the Friars to avoid another pedestrian season. It looks like Cooley will start freshman Josh Fortune right away; he's a guy who will knock down open shots and should compliment Council and Cotton well offensively on the wing. Overall, the wealth of offensive talent at Providence will shine when they get healthy and the non-conference schedule is weak enough for the Friars to build some momentum. The big question mark is the defense and I don't see enough improvement for Providence to climb out of the bottom third of the league. Let's call for a slight uptick to 6 Big East wins, two more than last year. ~ULhh

Depaul_mediumMy heart wants to predict DEPAUL won't finish last in the Big East this season but my brain thinks they'll need another year to crawl out of the basement. And a friendlier, C-USA-level conference slate. Yay, realignment. Juniors Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin are known commodities and Jamee Crockett will step into a bigger role, but beyond those three, it gets murky. Junior forward Moses Morgan has experience but will have trouble with Big East frontcourts. Charles McKinney, Worrel Clahar & Durrell McDonald are good defensive players that fit Oliver Purnell's high-tempo style and all three should get opportunities to start at the 2 opposite Young. DePaul's interior defense was a mess last year but I like Donnavan Kirk to be a decent upgrade over the graduated Krys Faber this season. Let's talk about the 800-pound blue demon in the room--DePaul should never be this bad this long; it's freaking Chicago, there's talent everywhere. They really need an on-campus arena but that's out of Purnell's control. He has to win games and generate some recruiting buzz and I think this year's lightweight non-conference schedule sets up well for that. Big East wise, they might not be the worst team, which is progress, and I like DePaul to win 4 conference games, one more than last year. ~ULhh

Seton_mediumSETON HALL surprised everybody with their hot start last season but stunned few by falling apart and losing in the second round of the NIT. It's going to be a rebuilding year for Kevin Willard but they're young & will return all but one player next year. The star will be junior Fuquan Edwin, who got snubbed for 2012 Big East Defensive POY and should lead the league in steals again this year. Edwin excels with the ball in transition but it will be a challenge for him to step into Jordan Theodore's role as a high-volume scorer. Louisville-native Aaron Cosby is still recovering from a minor preseason injury but many are expecting a breakout year from him after playing well in SHU's overseas trip to Spain. Southern Illinois transfer Gene Teague will replace the notorious Herb Pope at the 5 and at 6-9, 290 lbs, Teague should adapt quickly to Big East play. Junior forwards Patrik Auda and Georgia Tech transfer Brian Oliver won't overwhelm anyone with athleticism but they've got decent handles and deceptive range for large people with slow feet. Senior Iona transfer Kyle Smyth won't start but will knock down threes when called upon. The point guard role is up for grabs and most Pirates fans are excited about freshman PG Tom Maayan, who attended the same school as Auda and reserve men Aaaron Geramipoor and Haralds Karlis. If Cosby doesn't assume the point when he returns from injury, Maayan will compete with sophomore Freddie Wilson and probably win the starting job. Seton Hall will struggle in Big East play and I only see 4, maybe 5 wins this season. ~ULhh