Ahh Thanksgiving. Finally, it’s College Basketball time. We’ve moved past the Ohio State-Michigan game, Rutgers has lost, and the NFL’s long season is getting a little long. Just as Mister D said: “Basketball season is suddenly upon us.” Sure, we’ve had a week of Syracuse vs. Mexico Tech and Louisville vs Kentucky Beauty School games; but now, we’ve finally got some real games to watch. Thank goodness, because so far, the Big East does not look to Beastley. If anything, we’ve entered this season like a damn kitty cat. Hopefully, we can end in March like the monster we’ve come to know and love.
So here’s my opinion on what to look forward to this year:
1. Pittsburgh – Clearly, the Panthers have the deepest team in the league. Of course I’ll be rooting for someone to knock the Panthers from the top spot all year, but they’ve got the best team, and they have Aaron Gray, who should be the conference’s best player. Also, Pitt presents us with the best chance of getting a National Champion this season. They’re obviously not going to blow too many teams out because they play slow, and because of that I think they’ll lose 3-5 games in conference this year. But still, they should finish first.
2. Syracuse – This may be a little high for the Orangemen, excuse me, Orange, but I was in the garden last year, and I remember how good they can be. Granted, Gerry Mac is gone, but Paul Harris is supposed to be a very formidable replacement, and if that frontline can stay out of foul trouble, they’ll be right near the top all year.
3. Georgetown – OK, this is not because of their loss the other night. This is because they are going to be relying on two freshmen, and although Jeff Green is as good as anyone, I don’t think the Hoyas are as good as everyone thinks. They’re certainly not a top 10 team, and I believe GTown will hang on for third place this year.
4. Marquette – For the next four teams, your guess is as good as mine. But I do know this: Dominic James is a superstar. And there’s nobody who I’ll enjoy watching more this season than him.
5. Connecticut – I know, I know, how can UConn be ranked this high with no experience? Simple reason: talent. Sure, they’re young, but they have the most talent in the league. They’re real, real fast this year, and they’ll be exciting. The Huskies will lose some games they shouldn’t, and they’ll win some games they shouldn’t. Typical of a young talented squad. UConn will certainly be competive this year though, and I believe their #18 ranking should be about right.
6. DePaul -I’ll be patient with DePaul. They’ve started real slowly, but I remember that drubbing of Syracuse last year too, and I think Wilson Chandler and Sammy Mejia will carry this team to more wins than most think. DePaul will definitely do some damage this year.
7. Louisville – Here’s an NCAA tournament team who won’t suffer from losing Taquan Dean that much. Dean missed a lot of time last year, and I believe Louisville will certainly be better this year than last.
8. Villanova – I’m anxious to see Curtis Sumpter this season. He’ll have to be as good as he used to be in order for Nova to challenge the top of the league. Nova will be one of those bubble teams all year, and are probably the last Big East team to have a shot at the NCAAs this year.
9. St. John’s – This is where the Big East gets real weak this year. St John’s is not that good, as proven earlier this week against Maryland. I’ll be shocked if St. John’s does any better than 9th this year.
10. Notre Dame – If a tenth place finish can be considered a sleeper, then this is my sleeper. Their guards are average, but the rookie big man Luke Harangody is good. I think it’ll be good enough for the Irish to make MSG come March.
11. Providence – The Friars have a bunch of players coming back. Granted, they’re bad players, but still, they have experience. And that experience should translate into enough wins to put them in MSG.
12. West Virginia – I’m betting on the coach here rather than the players. I’ll miss the old crew so much, and I’ll never forget their knocking BC out of the tourney two years ago. And Gansey, Pittsnogle and company were good, but were they that good? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it was just the system. We’ll see this year.
13. Cincinnati – The Bearcats have six or seven JC transfers. What does that mean? I think it means they’ll be better than the bottom three.
14. Seton Hall – The Pirates lost a lot from last year, and they’ll lose a lot of games this year.
15. Rutgers – The RAC will still be loud, but that’ll only be in the first halves of games this year. Because in the second halves, Rutgers is likely to be long gone. Where have you gone Quincy Douby?
16. USF – I want to say that they’ll be better than last year, but I don’t think they will. Perhaps they’ll win 2. Maybe.
Let’s face it, the bottom of the league is weak, real weak, and that’ll kill our RPI. The Big East is sadly a step below this year. While I’m hoping for the best, I don’t think they will be nearly as dominant a league as they have been over the past 3 to 4 seasons.