Now that we’ve reached the mid-way point of the Big East season, it’s a fitting time to look back on my preseason predictions for the Big East. Here’s how I had the teams ranked in the preseason – the accurate (St. John’s, South Florida) the not-so accurate (Connecticut, Marquette) and everything in-between.
These standings should continue to shake out over the next month as things are very tight right now. Currently, there are only two games separating the teams in first (Syracuse at 7-2) and ninth (St. John’s at 6-4) in the loss column.
Seven teams currently have six conference wins.
1. Preseason Prediction: Louisville
Analysis: I didn’t go out on a limb in choosing the Cardinals, despite giving Syracuse a long look in this spot. A three game losing streak had them at 4-3 in the conference, but wins over Pittsburgh and Marquette left them in a four-way tie for 2nd heading into Monday night’s games.
Current Record: 18-4, 6-3 – 3rd place (tie)
2. Preseason Prediction: Syracuse
Analysis: I had questions about Syracuse’s experience coming in, but they just had too much depth and potential to keep out of the top two.
Current Record: 19-3, 7-2 – 1st place
3. Preseason Prediction: Notre Dame
Analysis: With Jack Cooley and an experienced backcourt I was high on the Irish and they’ve been solid, heading into tonight’s game at Syracuse at 6-4. They had won 4 of 5 entering play tonight.
Current Record: 18-5, 6-5 – 7th place
4. Preseason Prediction: Pittsburgh
Analysis: Higher on Pitt than most in November, my hunch was that they’d get back to their punishing style of play this season after a down year in 2011-12. So far, so good. At 6-4, they’re one of seven ranked Big East teams and defeated then-#6 Syracuse this weekend.
Current Record: 18-5, 6-4 – 8th place
5. Preseason Prediction: Georgetown
Analysis: Winners of six of seven in Big East play, the Hoyas were part of the four-way tie for second place (conference records) heading into Monday night’s games. I had my questions about this group, but had Otto Porter as my preseason player of the year and couldn’t go much lower.
Current record: 16-4, 6-3 – 5th place
6. Preseason Prediction: Cincinnati
Analysis: It looked as though the Bearcats were going to make me pay for not ranking them higher, as they were at the top of the Big East for a good portion of the out of conference schedule, starting 12-0. They started 1-2 in the conference, but have recovered well, winning five of six, with the only loss during the stretch a 57-55 defeat at Syracuse. My questions about this group revolved around the loss of Yancy Gates, but this program continues to grow.
Current Record: 18-4, 6-3 – 3rd place (tie)
7. Preseason Prediction: St. John’s
Analysis: This was higher than most had the Johnnies in the preseason, especially after they lost Mo Harkless after only a year. They’ve been terrific of late, winning five in a row before falling to Georgetown this weekend. Still, they are a surprising 6-4 in the Big East and have gotten separation from the bottom six teams in the league. The 9th place standing is misleading, as they are only a half game back of Cincy, Louisville and Georgetown.
Current Record: 14-8, 6-4 – 9th place
8. Preseason Prediction: Marquette
Analysis: This is looking like a big swing and a miss. Entering tonight Buzz Williams’ bunch was tied with Syracuse for first in the conference, having won six of their first eight conference games. I’m still not completely sold, but if they are to be exposed it might be a while – they have South Florida and DePaul next. This group should dance again this March, even with a roster without many familiar faces.
Current Record: 15-5, 6-2 – second place
9. Preseason Prediction: Villanova
Analysis: A hard team to figure having been swept by Providence, yet defeating both Louisville and Syracuse. They look like a group that should stay right around the 10 spot for the duration – better than the bottom tier, but not consistent enough to make up ground on teams that are 2-3 games ahead of them in the standings.
Current Record: 13-9, 4-5 – 10th place
10. Preseason Prediction: Rutgers
Analysis: Typically a Big East bottom feeder, I went higher on Rutgers as I liked their backcourt of Eli Carter and Myles Mack enough to offset the loss of Gil Biruta. The excitement of a 3-2 conference start has been slowed by four straight losses.
Current Record: 12-8, 3-6 – 11th place
11. Preseason Prediction: Providence
Analysis: How much has changed in Providence since November? Bryce Cotton’s name didn’t even appear in my quick blurb about the Friars, as I focused on how Kris Dunn would fit in upon returning and what PC could potentially get out of Kadeem Batts (a big question mark at the time) and Sidiki Johnson. Got a badly-needed win Sunday at Villanova.
Current Record: 11-11, 3-7 – 12th place
12. Preseason Prediction: Connecticut
Analysis: I badly underestimated how many games Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright could win for a team with such a porous frontcourt. Their weakness upfront combined with the transition from Jim Calhoun to Kevin Ollie, in addition to no postseason potential had me down on the Huskies. They’re 5-3 in the Big East with as favorable a schedule as any with two games against DePaul, South Florida and PC this year.
Current Record: 15-5, 5-3 – 6th place
13. Preseason Prediction: DePaul
Analysis: I flirted with the idea of bumping them up a spot or two considering their two best players are experienced and underrated (Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young), but the lack of depth around them and their inability to defend in recent years kept them near the bottom. They are just 1-7 in the Big East, but have been competitive of late, losing to St. John’s and Notre Dame in overtime their last two times out.
Current Record: 10-11, 1-7, 14th place
14. Preseason Prediction: South Florida
Analysis: It feels like a distant memory now, but most had the Bulls in the top 8 of the Big East following their tournament run last year. I wasn’t buying it, as they don’t have the size of a year ago and questions abound offensively. They’ve been pretty terrible on the offensive side of the ball and sit in last at 1-8 and 10-11 overall. They are one of only two teams (DePaul) with sub-.500 records overall.
Current Record: 10-11, 1-8, 15th place
15. Preseason Prediction: Seton Hall
Analysis: As much as I like Fuquan Edwin, Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope graduated, while sophomore guard Aaron Cosby was a question mark at the time with a knee injury. They’re 2-7 with wins over the only two teams with worse records than them – South Florida and DePaul.
Current Record: 13-9, 2-7 – 13th place