Order of Finish and Players of the Year
Big East basketball preseason rankings... from Big East bloggers.
Once more - and in anticipation of the Big East Media Day - we are putting together a bloggers' roundtable. This time around, we're only missing a few writers (who are busy with that "football" thing that passes time before basketball practice) - a good showing.
Not everyone was comfortable calling out teams that would make the tournament, or ranking teams into slots like a power ranking. I respect that, so we will post our results as a numbered list for those who provided that information, and in quartiles, which includes all who sent in rankings. But first, who's in this bad manna-jamma?
Cincinnati Bearcats Blog (Twitter) | Connecticut The UConn Blog (Twitter) | DePaul Blue Demons Nation | DePaul Chicago College Basketball (Twitter) | Georgetown Hoya Prospectus | Marquette Cracked Sidewalks (Twitter) | Pittsburgh Cardiac Hill (Twitter) | Rutgers On the Banks (Twitter) | Seton Hall South Orange Juice (Twitter) | South Florida VoodooFive (Twitter) | St. John's Rumble in the Garden (Twitter)| Villanova By the Numbers | Villanova The Nova Blog (Twitter) | Villanova VUHoops (Twitter) | West Virginia The Smoking Musket (Twitter)
You can check out the Syracuse Post-Standard's poll of basketball writers in the Big East for comparison... but without further ado, here are the polled results along with Player of the Year picks and Freshman of the Year picks... after the jump>>
And by quartiles:
Player of the Year (tie): Austin Freeman, Corey Fisher. Also receiving votes: Ashton Gibbs (2), Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Tim Abromaitis
Freshman of the Year: Fab Melo. Also receiving votes: Vander Blue (3), JayVaughn Pinkston
And some notes from our bloggers...
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: I think Seton Hall will be a tough team to predict. Last year they were picked as a breakout team, and while they didn't quite reach the NCAA tournament, they did have their best season since 2003-04 when they reached the second round of the tourney. The team has some talent coming back in its big three of Jeremy Hazell, Herb Pope, and Jeff Robinson. If the team can stay focused, they can go a long way. But the team has a new coach and has had off-court issues, so a losing season isn't out of the question, either.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: Why? See South Orange Juice preseason preview
Hardest to predict are Seton Hall and St. John's, both have greatly talented rosters (Seton Hall's depth and St. John's seniority), yet questions always surround new coaches and whether their players will buy into their philosophies.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: No offense, but overall rankings are crazy talk. We prefer to think of it in tiers. No particular order is below.
We’re calling this the year that SHU and SJU finally break through some of the morass and realize potential. One of those is probably wrong, but we’re not telling. We included Louisville and Notre Dame in the third tier partially out of spite, and at least we’re being honest. Finally, we see eight teams making the tournament from the BE.
Louisville. Pitino lost a productive if not frustrating core of players last year and heading into this year lost two of his best recruits. There's plenty of talent on the roster but the gaps are huge. Certainly UL will have some early season missteps but from where will the mid-season turnaround develop?
Chicago College Basketball (Twitter)
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: Marquette has a really young team, but there is a ton of talent there. The Golden Eagles are going to surprise a lot of people. Health might be an issue, but Jimmy Butler isn't alone there. People seem to be discounting them too much.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: UConn is by far the toughest team to predict. With the horrible performance last year and the offseason turmoil, it will be interesting to see if Jim Calhoun can still coach.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: I hate rankings and "order of finish" projections. Fans tend to look over the list, find their school "ranked" lower than they think it should be and begin flaming. They never bother to read what was actually written about the team. Or they read the preview using the "filter" of the ranking and pick away at every detail. It rarely goes well.
Plus I (if you have read my "Mea Culpa" posts over at Villanova by the Numbers) am really bad at predicting the order of the conference, especially through the middle eight (#5 - #13) spots. Like just about everyone else who does this, identifying the really good ones and the really bad teams is not difficult at all. The ones that can go either way however, can be very difficult to read.
Hardest to predict are Notre Dame, Seton Hall and St. John's.
Notre Dame's Mike Brey knows offense. But will his teams play defense, or will nearly every competitive game come down to the last possession? When Luke Harangody and Rob Kurz played together in 2008, they locked down the lane and the boards, and the Irish rolled. If Jack Cooley, a 6-9 244 pound Luke Harangody clone can find a low post buddy (Tyrone Nash perhaps?), and Coach Brey can find a serviceable point guard, the Irish could move up four-to-five spots. Easily.
DePaul, Rutgers, Seton Hall and St. John's all have new coaches, but Seton Halls Kevin Willard and St. John's Steve Lavin step into programs whose rosters are pretty well stocked with Big East-level talent and have players who can help immediately coming in. Fans expect progress (they do every season anyway), but unlike the Blue Demons and Scarlet Knights, both of whom are clearly in rebuilding mode, the new staffs at the Hall and St. John's could move those programs up in the conference standings. The element of unpredictability enters over whether the new coach/staff in each situation will adapt the offensive and defensive orientation to the talent on hand and win (Buzz Williams, Bob Huggins) or the coach/staff will try to implement very different offensive and defensive systems and begin to remold the roster and rotation immediately (Jerry Wainwright, Bobby Gonzalez).
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: I predict 6 teams will make the NCAA Tournament.
Marquette is hardest to predict. Last year, would not think they stood a chance to do as well as they did, with the loss of Matthews, James, and McNeal. Their loss of Hayward hurts, but adding Vander Blue is a big plus.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: I really feel that the top 8 teams are going to make the tournament. Seems each year there's a lot of talk about 9 or 10 teams getting in, but someone goes cold at the end of the year and misses out.
I feel there are are a lot of interchangeable spots in the rankings. Each of the top four teams could conceivably win the Big East. The hardest to predict for me were St. John's and Seton Hall. Both are talented veteran teams, but with new coaches, it'll be hard to predict how the teams will react until they get on the court.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict:
I have to admit I have no idea how Louisville, Seton Hall, and St. John's are going to fare this year. New coaches for The Hall and the Johnnies could catch lightning in a bottle (especially the Red Storm), or they could be the same old disappointments. With The Ville, I feel like their style will give some teams trouble, but too many new faces to really succeed in this league.
The most intriguing team for me is St. John's. Tons of talent, a lot of hype -- but how is Steve Lavin going to harness that and turn it into an NCAA team?
If Lavin isn't a new coach, I'm not sure I'd have such high hopes -- but new coaches with experienced teams tend to do very well.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: Louisville. I picked them so low because I think they are going to have major trouble making the tournament, what with Samuels going pro and no one qualifying it seems, but they always seem to overperform, so I dunno.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: This is a complete shot it the dark. Like every season in the Big East, there are always going to be a couple of teams that surprise everyone, and a couple that fall flat on their face. Who those are this season we have no idea, but we should have an idea by mid December. I do think that the Big East gets 8 in this year, with the next 3 going to the NIT.
I honestly don't know how to rank St. Johns and Seton Hall. Both are extremely senior laden, and if they adapt well to the new schemes both could make a run in the tourney.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: I think the Big East will get a ninth team into the NCAAs with the expanded bracket, so congrats to some team that goes 9-9 or 8-10 in the league.
I'll be honest, I don't really have a good feel for a lot of these teams at this point, but I feel mildly OK about my top 5 and bottom 4.
So I could be super vague and say that the teams in each of those three tiers (1-5, 6-12 and 13-16) could finish in any order.
But instead I'll go with Louisville. Everyone seems to think they will be a bottom-half team, and I'm not one to go against the herd wisdom obviously. But I just can't help but think Pitino will scrape together 10 Big East wins somehow.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: Honestly? All of them. There is a lot of uncertainty in predicting these things every year. That said, I think I struggled the most with Georgetown and Syracuse -- both teams arguably lost key players ('Cuse lost more than one). Georgetown losing Monroe means they may have to change their system to be more guard-oriented this season, so any prediction is making an assumption on whether they can successfully pull that off.
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: This season's so up in the air, I don't think I'm particularly capable of a top to bottom ranking.
There's a slew of teams that were pretty good and return a decent amount of important minutes, like Pitt, for example, or only lose one or two players, like Marquette. But there aren't a lot with real star power, to my mind.
Seven make the tourney in a down year, in this order: Pittsburgh, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Syracuse, Connecticut, Marquette.
There's not much certainty in the Big East this year. Hope springs eternal with less talented teams with new coaches (St. John's, Rutgers, Seton Hall, DePaul) and one of these teams has to respond with a surprise run, right? Right?
Still, I'm going to pick Georgetown. They have the backcourt to be a Final Four team, but the frontcourt (and rebounding and D that comes with it) is such a giant question mark that who knows?
Rumble in the Garden (Twitter)
Note on standings/ hardest to predict: I don’t feel comfortable doing a tiered system simply because I think there is a difference between the top 3 and the next group (and I don’t think Georgetown and Syracuse are as good as Pitt and ‘Nova, which was a coin flip for me). And the middle is a mess. I wouldn’t be shocked if Louisville, St. John’s, or even Notre Dame got up to 5th in the league, honestly.
From 3-13 are hard to predict. There is a clear top and bottom of the league, but there is so much roster turnover at key spots – the go-to guys, the point guards – that I expect a lot of predictions on standings to be wrong in here.