Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Big East Power Poll

As I said yesterday, football is done with actual on-field actions, and I can really only do so many NFL offseason posts in the first week after the Super Bowl, so let's focus on something else. For now, that will be the Pitt Panthers and their top 10 basketball team. It seems like every week a new contender emerges in the bloated Big East and a new underdog pulls a monster upset over a previous favorite. So how do we make sense of it all? By puting together the old Power Poll, of course!

The National Title Contenders
1. Connecticut- The Huskies not only are the Big East's top team, right now they are tops in the nation. This is a very, very good squad that is built very well for a run in March. Jeff Adrien, Jerome Dyson, Hasheem Thabeet, and A.J. Price are all star-caliber players and any one is capable of killing you at any time.
2. Louisville- Coming into the season I was very skeptical of Louisville. I felt that too often in the past they had been overrated because of their head coach. This year, however that is certainly not the case. The three headed monster of Terrance Williams, Samardo Samuels, and Earl Clark make this a dangerous squad. Williams is one of the best all-around players in the country. Their big weakness though is at the point guard where career underachieve Edgar Sosa has continued to disappoint.

3. Pitt- Jamie Dixon is doing it again at Pitt. For the past several seasons the knock on the Pitt program has been that they just can't get past the Sweet 16 in March. With this squad though, the Panthers figure to have their best shot ever at advancing. I mean if you can't do it with a core of Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, and Levance Fields with several very good role players, when can you do it?

The Unknown Entity
4. Marquette- To any Marquette fans out there: I know, I know, you were the last undefeated Big East team and are still in second-place in the Big East. But I mean, c'mon. You guys, for some bizarre reason, haven't played anybody yet and just got drubbed by lowly South Florida. Congrats you beat Georgetown and Notre Dame in the midst of their nuclear meltdowns. The 'Nova win was a very good one, I'll give you that, but we'll talk again after you've gone through the wringer from Feb. 25-March 4 when play UConn, at Louisville, and at Pitt in succession. If you get even 1 win there, you get elevated to National Championship Contender. Deal? Deal.

The Sleeper
5. Villanova- I don't think Nova has the juice to consistently knock around the big talent teams often enough to be considered a Final Four/ National Championship squad, but this is still a very good squad. On any given night they could certainly beat any other team if they play to their abilities, but they also have had trouble finishing as they lost close games to Louisville, Nova, and UConn.

Not Ready For Prime-time Players
6. Cincinnati
7. West Virginia
I gave these squads this name and lumped them together in one paragraph because they remind a lot of one another. Not necessarily in their play on the court, but in the way I feel about them. They are both programs on the rise in the Big East, but yet they definitely aren't yet ready to contend for the conference title and consistently play with the top squads. Still, they beat the teams they are supposed and are definitely capable of pulling an upset or two. Barring a collapse they'll both also be dancing.

Still Have Work To Do8. Syracuse
9. Providence
Given the depth and the hyping of this conference, most would consider it a disappointment if at least 8 squads and maybe even 9 don't make the tourney. Well, right now it looks like the league's best hopes for those bids are Syracuse and Providence. Neither is anywhere near in yet, but they are on the right track and with a few more wins over quality squads they should be on the right track to a dancing.
The Overachievers
10. Seton Hall
11. St. John's
Not a lot was expected of these two squads coming into the season and while certainly neither one is really tearing things up, both are making decent enough progress as they try to build their programs up. Neither is going to go dancing, but both have good shots at an NIT bid, which would at least be a decent start. They can also both play with just about anyone in conference.
The Implosions
12. Georgetown
13. Notre Dame
These two traditional powers in the conference came in with several talented players on their roster and reasonably high expectations. That is especially true for the Irish. Yet after solid starts in the Big East both are in the midst of epic collapses. It figures that ND's collapse will cost Mike Brey his job, and while G-town is disappointing they rae also a very young team.
Bad But Not The Worst
14. South Florida
15. Rutgers
USF came into the Big East for football and geographic purposes and it was to the definite detriment of their b-ball program. However after a few years of cellar dwelling the Bulls appear to at least be making some progress. It will be a long journey, but with three wins the Bulls already have as many wins as they ever have since joining the conference. The Knights meanwhile are a program headed in the opposite direction. They may have 1 win, but they are still a mess of a squad.
The Trainwreck
16. DePaul
The Blue Demons came out firing yesterday against Pitt and gave us a brief scare, but that team is really, really bad. They absolutely fell apart the rest of the game. Losing by 19 to Rutgers is downright embarassing. I honestly don't think the will win a game the rest of the year as their schedule is pretty brutal.

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