The State of Big East Men's Basketball
Big East teams ranked in the AP Top 25
No. 1 -The UConn Huskies regained the No.1 spot in the polls, after a one-week absence.
No. 3 – Pittsburgh with a record of 26-3 overall. If UConn defeats Pittsburgh this Saturday they will be the No.1 seed in the Big East Tournament.
No. 6 – Louisville with a 23-5 record overall. Louisville has a very good chance of winning or sharing the Big East title this year. Louisville is the hottest team in conference, winners of five straight games. Freshman Semardo Samuels was named Big East Newcomer of the Week.
No. 11 – Villanova – ‘Nova ended Notre Dame’s chances of at-large consideration with a 75-60 win last night. Villanova is 24-6 overall.
No. 13- Marquette – Marquette had a rough week, losing Dominic James for the season. They also lost to UConn and Louisville.
No. 25- Syracuse – Syracuse has once again resurfaced in the Top 25 after struggling for a stretch during the middle of the year. Syracuse looks to be a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament at this point. Syracuse is 21-8 overall.
The HoopWriters.com Big East Player of the Year Candidates
Hasheem Thabeet – The ‘big fella’ or the’ greatest force’ as Calhoun refers to him as, had a big year for UConn and is amongst national leaders in blocked shots 4.4 per game and rebounding at 10.7 per game. His scoring has been a surprise this year as his average creeps closer to 14.0 ppg, as he currently averages 13.6.
Luke Harangody – Luke Harangody is the reigning Big East Player of the Year. He has the nicest stat line, 24 ppg and 12.6 rebounds. The problem is his team has underperformed this year.
Jerel McNeal – McNeal leads all players nominated by HoopWriters, as a three-time Big East Player of the Week selection. McNeal averages 20.2 ppg, he has struggled of late.
DeJuan Blair –He is ranked third nationally in rebounds with 12.8 per game. Probably had the single most dominant game of the year in Pitt’s victory over UConn.
The Winner is Hasheem Thabeet of UConn based on his defensive prowess and improved offensive game. Luke Harangody and DeJuan Blair both tie for second with Jerel McNeal coming in fourth. It should be noted, that Zach Smart was not included in the voting. Ken Krayeske chose Jerome Dyson and Kyle McAlrney due to the fact that both have gotten in trouble for smoking marijuana.
Big East Player of the Week
Weyinmi Efejuku of Providence College. Efejuku averaged 22 ppg this week for Providence College. Providence shocked the Big East, by upsetting Pittsburgh early last week.
Coach of the Year
Buzz Williams- Williams has led Marquette to an impressive season. The problem with this selection is that he inherited a program with a talented cast of seniors (James, McNeal and Mathews). There is something about this guy, he sort of reminds me of a young Rollie Massimino.
Jim Calhoun – Calhoun had one of his most dominant teams in recent memory until the injury to Jerome Dyson. He still has a national contender, but his team is not as deep as it was supposed to be. Lately, he has gone to Scottie Haralson, who is a three point specialist. Craig Austrie and Stanley Robinson need to elevate their games.
Rick Pitino – Pitino can be thrown into the mix, but like Calhoun his team’s dominance was expected.
Keno Davis - Davis is the reigning national coach of the year. I think he is the easy choice for Big East Coach of the Year. Providence is likely in the NCAA Tournament and they have achieved something else no one thought, 10 wins in the Big East Conference. The biggest criticism to this argument is like Buzz Williams, Davis inherited a senior dominated team.
Mitch Cronin – Cronin has Cincy at 8-8 in conference and on the NCAA bubble. If his team can win out then Cronin could be the winner. Cincy has a relatively easy schedule @USF and Seton Hall at home. If they can avoid the upset at USF then they have a very good chance at finishing the year at 10-8 in conference.
Big East Team’s ‘In’ the Tournament
UConn, Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville, Villanova, Providence College, Pittsburgh.
Big East Team’s ‘On’ the Bubble
Cinncinati- Cincy has a good shot at finishing the year at 10-8 in conference. At 10-8 they are in, at 9-9 they will need one victory in the Big East Tournament.
West Virginia – Huggins team is the forgotten one, but they are 9-7 in conference. One more win and they are in. West Virginia finishes the year with homes games versus DePaul and Louisville. You would have to think that they beat Depaul.
Wainwright needs to go. I feel bad for this guy, but it can not get any worse than finishing a season with no win’s in conference. They finish the year at West Virginia and at Georgetown. Expect more of the same and DePaul to finish the year 0-18 in the Big East.
This New Jersey product received a lot of hype coming into the year as Rutgers first McDonald’s All-American. Upon first glance his 17 ppg as a freshmen are impressive. Rosario, though, is a turnover machine (3 turnovers per game) and tries to do too much. He also takes a ton of shots on average 14.7 per game.
Rutgers only won three games last year in conference and now this year they have won just one. It is time to find a new coach maybe his Uncle Brian could do better, or even his father Fred Sr., who is the coach of the Rutgers baseball team.
Novel idea: Realignment
The Big East is too big and it is time to get rid of some teams. Depaul, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Marquette and Providence College come to mind. The reason is that 16 teams and an 18 game schedule are too much. Also, the universities I have mentioned do not have Division I football programs.
It is also time for the Big East to add Notre Dame full-time or Notre Dame should go to the Big Ten. Boston College should come back to the Big East as well as Miami and Virginia Tech.
Imagine a conference that looked like this: Notre Dame, UConn, South Florida, Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Syracuse, and Louisville.