Today begins Cracked Sidewalks' preview of the 2011-12 season for your Marquette Warriors. We're going to begin with our predictions for the Big East as a whole. Who will top the standings, who's overrated, who's under-hyped, and how many teams will be dancing come March? The CS crew is here to try to help answer those questions.
Despite garnering only one first place vote, Syracuse edged out Louisville for the top spot in our poll. The home crowd picked Marquette fourth, edging out both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Alan: Villanova. I just don't think they're very good. Wayns is overrated, Yarou is inconsistent, and Cheek's a bust. There's not another player on the team I trust. I'm really glad Marquette plays them twice in January when they'll still be getting votes in the polls. They may not win a game after the first week of February.
James: St. John's. Tremendous recruiting class, but academic issues, Lavin's health, and inexperience will mean they are going to be near the bottom this year.
John: West Virginia. As great a coach as Huggins is, I believe this team is left with one superstar in Kevin Jones. "Truck" Bryant looked fine last year with so many different tools, but I believe he is just above-average with Jones as his only target. I don't believe Deniz Kilicli or any of the other players are likely to be standouts.
Rob: Connecticut. They lost their best player and only went 9-9 in conference last year. Plus, they're going through the entire year with a target on their backs. Everyone wants to beat the champ. Their conference record will be okay, but it won't be best by a long shot.
Tim: St. John's. So far their incoming freshmen class is merely an academic embarrassment but thanks to the East Coast hype machine the Johnnies already get far too much attention for a program with a roster that amounts to that of an elite prep school. It will be a long year in Queens.
Alan: Notre Dame. A not-very-talented but veteran Irish team surprised people by contending for the league crown last year. Two of those seniors are back and they're joined by a trio of tough, experienced juniors. I expect a lot out of sophomore PG Eric Atkins and redshirt freshman Jerian Grant. Look for another good year in South Bend.
James: Marquette. Has enough talent to finish in the top four if things break their way. Most experts will pick MU probably middle of the pack...6th to 8th.
John: Cincinnati. The stretch run for Cincy last year resulted from Yancy Gates finally living up to his ability by dominating inside. I expect a monster year from him, which will let Dion Dixon, Cashmere Wright, and Sean Kilpatrick lead Cincinnati into the top 4. Honorable mention to Georgetown, who I believe will surprise behind Hollis Thompson to get into the top half of the conference by year end.
Rob: Marquette, dammit! After several years of being down on MU, this year I am drinking the Kool-Aid by the gallon and handing it out. I think Marquette has the right pieces to finish in one of the top four spots.
Tim: West Virginia. Two words -- Bob Huggins. The guy is a terrific coach and with one of the league's best seniors in Kevin Jones, Huggins' bunch will dance once more and surprise to the upside.
Number of Bids
8 -- Between the five writers polled, the average actually came to 8.2, which would put #8 Notre Dame and #9 Villanova, separated by only 1 point in the poll, squarely on the bubble if this prediction held true. It's a far cry from the 11 that the league produced last year, but attrition has hit quite a few teams hard, including 2011 NCAA bid-winners Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John's, who would all be on the outside looking in.