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2011-12 Big East Conference Preview

November 11, 2011 Columns No Comments

The Big East Conference as a whole is in flux as we start the 2011-12 college basketball season, but all that realignment is still a year or more in the future. The strongest basketball conference in the country last year sent a record-setting 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament.

The Darlings of the Dance were the Kemba Walker-led Connecticut Huskies who went on a tear winning five straight games to capture the Big East’s automatic bid by winning the conference tournament. The Huskies went on to win six more games and win the national title, defeating the Butler Bulldogs, 53-41.

The 2011-12 Big East has many of the usual suspects expected to make national headlines with six teams ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll Top 25. The defending national champions, UConn, lead the way for the Big East opening the season, ranked fourth in the nation.

While the Huskies will be a threat to repeat as national champs, the Syracuse Orange are our pick to win the Big East Championship as well as the national championship. Ranked No. 5 coming into the year, the Orange only graduated one starter, Rick Jackson, but have replaced him with two Rivals Top 30 recruits.

Accompanying the Orange to the NCAA Tournament will be a group of eight other teams: Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, West Virginia, Georgetown and Notre Dame.

Predicted Big East Standings

 

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

Preseason Awards:

Player of the Year: Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh

Newcomer of the Year: Andre Drummond, Connecticut

Coach of the Year: Mick Cronin, Cincinnati

First Team All-Big East

Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh (POY)
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Kevin Jones, West Virginia
Yancy Gates, Cincinnati

Second Team All-Big East

Scoop Jardine, Syracuse
Kris Joseph, Syracuse
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame
Peyton Siva, Louisville
Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut

Third Team All-Big East

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Augustus Gilchrist, South Florida
Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Maalik Wayns, Villanova

Coaching carousel:

Providence fired Keno Davis and hired Ed Cooley (Fairfield)

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