Monday, December 28, 2009

Big East Preview: Part II

Big East Teams (By Pomeroy Ranking)-

Syracuse (4th)-

Jim Boeheim's squad hopped onto the national radar with a 16 point win over North Carolina back in November. Syracuse was ranked 24th at the time, the Tar Heels 4th in the nation. The Orange also boast wins over Cal and 11th-ranked Florida (starting the Gators three-game losing streak). The 2-3 zone has been strong this year, ranking 11th in the nation in defensive efficiency. On offense, Syracuse leads the country in effective field goal percentage. The top four scorers on the team have shot 60% or better on the year. It's hard to lose when a guy like Wesley Johnson (Iowa State transfer) has been unstoppable from all over the floor, including 52.4% from three-point range.

West Virginia (5th)-

The other unbeaten team in the Big East boasts a pair of nonconference victories over Texas A&M and Ole Miss, and now a victory over Seton Hall. Last year's edition of the Mountaineers finished the season ranked in the top ten by Ken Pomeroy, but the statistical dominance didn't exactly lead to the kind of success Bob Huggins wants to see in Morgantown. This season should be more successful in the win column. As the Irish learned last year, this program loves to dominate the offensive glass. They are ranked fourth in offensive rebounding percentage this season, led by Devin Ebanks (17 boards against Seton Hall) and Kevin Jones (14 in that game, as well).

Georgetown (18th)-

After a very disappointing 2009, the Hoyas are back near the top of the conference. Wins over Butler, Washington, and Temple have given this squad some credibility. The loss to Old Dominion was a bit disappointing, but the Monarchs are certainly a mid-major team to watch this year. Greg Monroe is starting to look like the player he was hyped to be out of high school, averaging a double-double, and a stable of good guards have the team playing great defense. They won't beat a lot of teams in a shootout, as evidenced by their 46-45 snorefest with Temple, but the Princeton offense does just enough to make this team a winner.

Villanova (30th)-

The preseason favorite has been less than impressive in stretches this year, but they still hold onto a top ten spot in the polls. Jay Wright has been compared to Mike Brey throughout their Big East careers and has taken the clear advantage over the last few seasons with his superb results in the postseason and recruiting. He entered this year with a fantastic opportunity to take the Big East title and mark himself as one of the elite coaches in college basketball. Now the Wildcats find themselves on a tier below looking up at the top two schools. Like ND, they have a very potent offense but struggle on the defensive end of the ball (92nd). The lone loss was to a talented Temple team.

Marquette (31st)-

Outplaying their expectations, the Golden Eagles boast a neutral-site win against Xavier and have performed better than expected in their three losses, including an away contest to intrastate rival Wisconsin. They have combined a top 25 offense with a workable D to leap from a probable NIT bid to competing for a Big East top four finish. Jimmy Butler has been fantastic, ranking 5th in the country with a 142.1 offensive rating.

Pittsburgh (36th)-

Bad loss to Indiana, blown out by Texas, and nothing too exciting the rest of the way. Bad offensively (109th) with a top 20 D. One of the slowest teams in the country, with just 63.3 possessions per game.

Seton Hall (39th)-

Jeremy Hazell is the big star here. He's the second highest scorer in the league with 21.9 points per game. They don't turn the ball over a lot and play pretty solid defense. Yet another Big East team that played Temple, losing 71-65.

Connecticut (41st)-

Lost their two games against good opponents (Duke and Kentucky). Gavin Edwards and Co. block a lot of shots on defense, even without Hasheem Thabeet.

Louisville (45th)-

Surpisingly weak defense so far for a Rick Pitino-coached team. Bad losses at home to Charlotte and Western Carolina. No real nonconference opponents of note.

South Florida (51st)-

Bad loss at home to Central Michigan with no really tough nonconference competition. Pretty much above average as a team across the board.

St. John's (59th)-

Beat Temple, making the Owls 2-2 against the Big East. Lost to Cornell and Duke. D.J. Kennedy has been very good so far this year (16.7 PPG).

Cincinnati (60th)-

Lost to good mid-majors Xavier, Gonzaga, and UAB. Boast a top-25 D but are pretty average scoring the ball.

Notre Dame (77th)-

And here we are. Easily the biggest differential between our strength (offense- 4th) and weakness (defense- 256th). Worst D in the conference, and it ain't even close.

Providence (86th)-

Lost to Iona and BC at home. Jamine Peterson scores 17.8 per game.

Rutgers (171st)-

Block a lot of shots and have held opponents to just 40.5% inside the arc (average nationwide is 47.7%). Mike Rosario is amongst the league's top scorers.

DePaul (188th)-

Just a hair better than last year's awful team. Lost to American and Florida Gulf Coast. Jerry Wainwright is on his way out.


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