I’ll give a rundown on predictions of leagues through the course of the rest of the summer, first up; the Big East.
It is a league this season, that could be wide open and at least ten teams should be excited about their potential this season.
1. West Virginia * – This is likely dependent on if Truck Bryant can play this season. I could careless about Mazzulla, Bryant emerged as a better player last season regardless. Butler and Ebanks is a great 1-2 punch on the perimeter and Butler at times last season was perhaps the best player in the league for stretches. Kevin Jones a talented sophomore should emerge this season and make that a three headed monster. A consistent outside shooter must emerge with the loss of Ruoff. Dalton Pepper and Dan Jennings are solid additions to go along with the rest of the cast that is returning.
2. Villanova – The most overlooked loss this season is Dante Cunnigham, the leader and best player of last seasons Final 4 team. Also the losses of Shane Clark and Dwayne Anderson should not go without notice. Who steps in patrols the paint, Taylor King? Mouph Yarou is a talented but still raw prospect who will be counted on a lot. However the back court talent is too much to ignore, and we’ve seen Coach Wright utilize that before. Reynolds, Stokes, Fisher, Wayns and Cheek. Quite a rotation.
3. Georgetown – JTIII gets lottery pick Greg Monroe back for another year, and should become the best player in the league. Chris Wright and Austin Freeman must make good on their talent, Freeman, if slimmed down can elevate this team to this status. Hollis Thompson, Jason Clark, and Henry Sims will all bring athleticism and a spark that was needed last season.
4. Uconn – Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker return. A talented trio at the 1-3. It will be up to the frontline consisting of Gavin Edwards and Alex Oriakhi to determine how far they can go. My guess is Calhoun finds a way to get enough out of this group to perform fairly well. It would not surprise me to see this team slip a little bit further down the list, but that talented trio should fare well.
5. Notre Dame – Following a hugely disappointing season, Notre Dame should be returning a more talented team. Led by Luke Harangody, the most important players will be transfers Scott Martin and Ben Hansbrough. Hansbrough finally offers a second ball handler next to Tory Jackson and Martin adds length and versatility to the team, something that has been needed. They’ll score a ton and still not defend a chair, they’ll fare well in the regular season but in March go nowhere, as usual.
6. Louisville – You don’t lose your top two playmakers and not skip a beat. Who scores the ball for Pitino this year or creates plays? It took both Clark and Williams a while to gain Pitino’s trust and find their games. While Jerry Smith, Samardo Samuels, Terrence Jennings, Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles and incoming standout Peyton Siva are all on the roster, I see a little bit of a fall off, but as long as Pitino is around they will find themselves in the top half.
7. Cincinnati – How many trios would you take over; Deonta Vaughn, Yancy Gates and Lance Stephenson? For me, not many. Cashmere Wright should be an added boost of an injury, resulting in a pretty talented backcourt. Gates will have to man the paint, something he is completely capable of doing. If Lance can buy into the team game, which he is capable of, UC can be a player in the conference.
8. Syracuse – A weird start to the offseason resulted in the losses of Devendorf and Harris, followed by star Jonny Flynn. A core of Andy Rautins, Arinze Onauku and Rick Jackson return. There has been high praise for Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson, who it seems can put Carmelo and DC to shame if you ask Syracuse homers this summer. Brandon Triche is a solid incoming floor general, but replacing Flynn is just not possible.
9. Pittsburgh – Tough to find a team who has lost more key pieces than Pitt. Gone are Levance Fields, Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Tyrell Biggs. The only hold over in the starting line up is Jermaine Dixon, regarded as the weak link last season. The young players; Brad Wanamaker, Ashton Gibbs and Dante Taylor offer promise and Jamie Dixon is still on the sidelines, but the losses may be too much to overcome this season.
10. Seton Hall – Gonzo will finally have a good number of bodies on his team this year. He adds transfers Keon Lawrence and Herb Pope to a decent foundation. Jeremy Hazzel emerged as a big time scorer last season. Eugene Harvey once again returns to run the team and Robert Mitchell is a decent talent on the wing.
11. Saint Johns – Norm Roberts will get to coach his most talented Johnnie’s team this coming season. Everyone on the roster returns, including previously injured Anthony Mason JR. They also add Omari Lawrence, one of Roberts better pulls. Paris Horne is a solid talent, capable of keeping the defense honest. The development of Justin Burrell inside is important to how the team will fare in conference.
12. Marquette- The guard trio is finally gone, and should cause for quite a fall for Marquette. Lazar Hayward is a very talented player, but can he handle a #1 role? The incoming recruiting class appears to be solid. Led by point guard Junior Cadougan. Jimmy Butler was decent last season, but will have to provide more down low this year. We’ll see exactly how good of a coach Buzz Williams is or can be with his own guys.
13. Rutgers – Fred Hill has an emerging college star in Mike Rosario, who may score enough to steal a few wins on his own this conference season. Defensively, Rutgers was not horrible last season, 63rd in the nation according to kenpom.
14. Providence – The Friars have lost a ton, but it appears Keno Davis is a keeper and should keep his team out of the cellar. The trio of Sharraud Curry, Marshon Brooks and Brian McKenzie return. Brooks is an intriguing prospect with his length and offensive ability. The recruiting class coming in has a lot of quantity but the quality remains to be seen. Nonetheless the future appears to be a little brighter now in Providence.
15. South Florida – A team I could see finishing higher up than this slot, but they’ve given hardly any indication of doing so since entering the Big East. Jarrid Famous is a talented juco transfer who should provide athleticism down low next to Gus Gilchrist. Dominique Jones is a talented wing player that must learn what is a good shot. It has been a team lacking of discipline recently, something Stan Heath must improve on.
16. Depaul – Losing their best and most talented player early in Dar Tucker does not bode well for an awful DePaul team. They return Mac Koshwal and Will Walker. Tony Freeland is a decent incoming freshmen, but DePaul will be lacking on talent in a big way. Head Coach Jerry Wainwright will continue to struggle.