"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cracked Sidewalks' Big East Predictions

The 2006-2007 basketball season is finally upon us. Unlike last season, Marquette won't sneak up on its foes in the nation's best basketball conference, though that does not curb our enthusiasm for Tom Crean's squad. But the Big East is darn tough....and predictions are part of the fun.

Today, the Big East Basketball Report issued its first Power Poll for the season -- we'll contribute to that every week, so be sure to check out their inaugural poll when you can.

Now now for your consideration, here are the Cracked Sidewalks' Big East pre-season picks:

Projected Big East Overall Standings

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

Pittsburgh and Georgetown are a cut above the rest of the league this year, while teams 3-6 in are relatively interchangeable. Based on what MU returns and the precedent set by Villanova's undersized squad last season, we believe the Golden Eagles are the best of that bunch. Losing Steve Novak is non-trivial, but with the conference's best backcourt along with a deeper, more athletic roster, the Golden Eagles should soar this season. Syracuse is a notch behind MU, while UConn and Louisville have young talent that will learn how to win consistently by February, if not sooner.

Other notes......Providence, despite losing Donnie McGrath, has plenty of potential with McDermott, Curry and freshman big fella Ray Hall -- and Tim Welsh knows he's in a 'win-or-else season'. Look for PC to surprise on to the upside. We also think the Mountaineers lost too much for a team that relies on a precision offense and will struggle to make the Big East tournament. But we've been wrong about Beilein before.

On to the individual awards.

Big East POY: Aaron Gray

1st Team All-Big East:
C -- Aaron Gray, Pittsburgh
F -- Jeff Green, Georgetown
F -- Curtis Sumpter, Villanova
G -- Dominic James, Marquette
G -- Sammy Mejia, DePaul

2nd Team All-Big East:
C -- Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
F -- Juan Palacios, Louisville
F/G -- Wes Matthews, Marquette
G -- Paul Harris, Syracuse
G -- Levance Fields, Pittsburgh

3rd All-Big East:
C -- Haseem Thabeet, Connecticut
F -- Wilson Chandler, DePaul
F -- Geoff McDermott, Providence
G -- Jerel McNeal, Marquette
G -- A.J. Price, Connecticut

A few observations......We think Sammy Mejia is going to be the reason DePaul fights for an NCAA tournament berth down to its last game of the season and averages closer to 19 ppg. We also think Juan Palacios will finally play the way Pitino envisioned him when he arrived at the 'Ville. Wesley Matthews will prove that the injury he sustained last season did not hinder his development. He'll surprise the Big East this season. Levance Fields is going to be a special player -- Pitt played better with him on the floor last season than it did with the now-departed Krauser running the show. Price and Thabeet will keep the Huskies a top-5 Big East team this season.

Big East FOY: Paul Harris

1st Team Freshmen All-Big East:
C -- Haseem Thabeet, Connecticut
F -- Derrick Caracter, Louisville
F -- Vernon Macklin, Georgetown
G -- Paul Harris, Syracuse
G -- Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

2nd Team Freshmen All-Big East:
C/F -- Stanley Robinson, Connecticut
F -- Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia
F -- Lazar Hayward, Marquette
G -- Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall
G -- Jeremiah Rivers, Georgetown

As for freshman of the year, the race will come down to Thabeet, Caracter and Harris, and if Harris keeps the 'Cuse in the hunt, he wins it. We think he will. Our sleeper for freshman of the year is Seton Hall's electric Eugene Harvey, or perhaps Jeremiah Rivers if he emerges as a steadying influence on the Hoyas.

Now let's play some baskeball!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

James McNeal?