Big East Preview – Part 3

Whew. Sorry for the delay everyone. Still recovering from a nasty bout with food poisoning. I simply was unable to concentrate on anything productive this week until I gained a little more sanity. Without further ado, here is Tier 3:

9. St. Johns Red Storm 17-16 (6-12) – The Red Storm are loaded with experience. They have 10 seniors on the team as well as a new coach – Steve Lavin. The only significant player gone from last year’s squad is Anthony Mason Jr.

Returning a bunch of players and having a senior laden team is usually a positive, but the big question is: Will Lavin be able to turn a team that only won 6 conference games last season into an NCAA tournament team? A lot of people are saying yes, including Rick Pitino, who thinks the Johnnies will win the Big East…

10. Louisville Cardinals 20-13 (11-7) – Louisville will be an interesting team this season, to say the least. They lost leading scorer Samardo Samuels, and a trio of guards in Edgar Sosa, Reginald Delk and Jerry Smith. Returning players Jared Swopshire, Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles will have to really step up to keep the Cardinals afloat.
Unfortunately, Memphis transfer Robert Sallie and stud recruit Justin Coleman were both deemed ineligible for Louisville. Center Gorgui Dieng was initially ruled ineligible, but the NCAA reversed that decision.

All in all, Louisville looks to be in a rebuilding type year. Expect Pitino to run his players ragged in an up tempo system, but don’t expect them to make the NCAA tournament.

11. Cincinnati Bearcats 19-16 (11-7) – The Cats only lose two players from last season, unfortunately, those two players were the most important. Forward Lance Stephenson (12.3 ppg) and guard Deonta Vaughn were the focal points in the Bearcat’s offense last year. This time around, Yancy Gates and Ibrahima Thomas will have to pick up the slack in the front court. Cashmere Wright will likely play the point while Rashard Bishop plays a wing position.

Like last year, expect Cincinnati to be a balanced scoring team; No player averaged more than 12.3 ppg. Mick Cronin will need to emphasize stiff defense and superb rebounding if Cincinnati wants to exceed last season’s 11 conference wins because I just don’t see the fire power.

12. Connecticut Huskies 18-16 (7-11) – The Huskies lose three-fourths of their four headed “monster”. Forwards Gavin Edwards (10.6 ppg) and Stanley Robinson (14.5 ppg) along with guard Jerome Dyson (17.3 ppg) have all moved on. The only returning starters for Jim Calhoun is point guard Kemba Walker and forward Alex Oriakhi. Beyond those two, Calhoun might have to utilize freshmen Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith.

This team could be very good a year or two down the road, but I just can’t see 2 or 3 starting freshman carry a team in the Big East.

I will wrap up the Big East with Tier 4 as well as post a few Big East statistics by Sunday night. Hopefully you enjoyed this post and again, follow me on that Twitter thing: @the_bracket_man

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Seton Hall OOC Opponent Breakdown

Fri., Nov. 12, at Temple
Sun., Nov. 14, CORNELL
Fri., Nov. 19, vs. Alabama ^
Sat/Sun, Nov. 20/21, vs. Iowa or Xavier ^
Mon., Nov. 22, vs. TBD ^
Mon., Nov. 29, SAINT PETER’S
Wed., Dec. 8, vs. Arkansas # (7 PM, ESPN2)
Sat., Dec. 11, at Massachusetts
Mon., Dec. 13, LONGWOOD
Sun., Dec. 19, NJIT
Wed., Dec. 22, DAYTON
Sun., Dec. 26, RICHMOND

November 12th, @ Temple University Owls 29-6 (14-2), Preseason #22 – Temple will return virtually everyone outside of leading scorer Ryan Brooks (14.2ppg, 36.2mpg). Standouts Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez will be the go to players for the Owls. Expect Temple to be on the same level as last season, but they now have the home court advantage.

November 14th, Cornell University Big Red 29-5 (13-1), Preseason NR – Cornell is the opposite of Temple. They virtually lose every major player from last season besides Chris “Robo” Wroblewski (29.6mpg, 8.9ppg). Gone is the senior leadership of Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, Jeff Foote, Jon Jacques and a few reserves. Don’t forget that Cornell also lost its coach Steve Donahue to Boston College.

Cornell finished with an RPI of 48. Its safe to say that Cornell will have an RPI of around 248 this season.

November 19th, Paradise Jam Round 1 vs. Alabama Crimson Tide 17-15 (6-10), Preseason NR – The Crimson Tide should be around the same level of last season’s team. They lose their leading scorer Mikhail Torrence and 5th scorer Justin Knox among other reserves (47% scoring gone). Alabama landed an ESPNU Top 100 recruit Trevor Releford who should have an impact on the team. They also inked JUCO guard Kendall Durant and former SHU target Carl Engstrom (7’1 C).

Alabama finished with and RPI of 102. They should be in the mid 100s this season — a solid team.

November 20th/21st, Paradise Jam Round 2 vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (with loss v. Alabama) Preseason NR – Iowa is going to have another really tough season. Former Seton Hall coaching candidate Fran McCaffrey will be lucky if his team wins more than 10 games. The only notable returning player is junior Matt Gatens (36.7 mpg, 12.3 ppg).

Iowa finished with an RPI of 210 last season, they will probably have one in the mid to lower 200s this year.

November 20th/21st, Paradise Jam Round 2 vs. Xavier Musketeers (with win v. Alabama) Preseason 38th – Xaxier had really nice season last year. However, they will have to replace some big guns if they want to perform at the same level. Leading scorer (32.8 mpg, 20.5 ppg) Jordan Crawford and 3rd scorer Jason Love (27.8 mpg, 11.8 ppg) are both gone. Xavier also lost sharp shooter Brad Redford to a torn ACL in practice.

The Musketeers had a superb RPI of 19 last year, expect the RPI to be in the Top 50 again this season.

November 22nd, Paradise Jam Round 3 vs. TBD – The remaining Paradise Jam match up will be against Old Dominion, St. Peters, Clemson or Long Beach State. ODU only loses their leading scorer (Lee) off of a 27 RPI season. Clemson hired a new coach and lost their leading scorer (Booker) off of a 34 RPI season — expect them to be a bit worse. Long Beach State lost their 4th scorer off of an 121 RPI season. They should have a similar RPI to Alabama this season. I’ll update St. Peters in detail later since SHU will definitely play them outside of the Paradise Jam.

November 29th, St. Peters College Peacocks 16-14 (11-7) Preseason NR – The Peacocks lose no one from their 2009-10 squad that nearly upset Seton Hall. However, Wesley Jenkins injured his ACL and will be out for the game against Seton Hall. He average 13.8 ppg last season. St. Peters is the clear favorite to win the MAAC this year. It will be interesting to see if SPC has Seton Hall’s number or if last year was just a hang over from Keon Lawrence’s incident.

December 8th, Big East/SEC Challenge @ Louisville vs. Arkansas Razorbacks 14-18 (7-9) Preseason NR – The Razorbacks lose over 50% of their scoring (51%) from last year, including leading scorer Courtney Fortson (33.3mpg, 17.9ppg). The Razorbacks will need to rely on the only two returning double figure scorers Rotnei Clarke and Marshawn Powell.

Arkansas finished with an RPI of 159. They should be around the same level this season, possibly a little lower.

December 11th, @ Massachusetts Minutemen 12-20 (5-11) Preseason NR – Seton Hall is returning the H/H they setup with the Minutemen. Last year, Seton Hall dominated for basically the whole game. Expect nothing less this season since UMass lost their leading scorer, Ricky Harris (19.9 ppg), to graduation.

UMass finished win an RPI of 176. They should be slightly improved this year, but Seton Hall should have no trouble at all.

December 13th, Longwood Lancers (12-19) Preseason NR – Not much to say here, more of a filler game. The Lancers lost their leading scorer Dana Smith (18.2 ppg). Longwood finished with and RPI of 286 last year, and it shouldn’t be any better this year.

December 19th, NJIT Highlanders 10-21 (4-8) Preseason NR – Just a few years ago, NJIT was the laughing stock of college basketball for their record losing streaks. Last season, they won a whopping 10 games. Luckily, Seton Hall wasn’t one of them; Seton Hall won by 40. NJIT is another filler game, just like Longwood. Not much to see here.

December 22nd, Dayton Flyers 25-12 (8-8) NIT Champions, Preseason 48th – Dayton produced a strong product last year. They defeated UNC in the NIT final, stealing the title from my Penn State Nittany Lions. Dayton only loses their 3rd and 4th scorers, Marcus Johnson and Rob Lowery (respectively). Interestingly enough, Lowery is playing with former Pirates Paul Gause and Jamar Nutter in Germany.

Dayton finished win an RPI of 54. They should be performing around the same clip this year since they fielded a very balanced squad last year. No one played over 29 minutes per game.

December 26th, Richmond Spiders 26-9 (13-3) Preseason 36th – The Spiders had a very under the radar season. They put up a fight against the team that beat Villanova in the NCAA tournament (St. Marys) and won 26 overall games. Richmond loses Ryan Butler (8.4 ppg) and David Gonzalvez (14.6 ppg). However, Richmond is bringing in what coach Chris Mooney thinks is his best recruiting class yet as well as returning leading scorer Kevin Anderson (17.8 ppg).

Richmond had an RPI of 25 last year, expect them to be somewhere in that range again this year, probably Top 50.

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Now that we’ve covered every team the Pirates will or can play, lets group them into three categories. Great schedule, neutral, and cupcake.

Great schedules: Temple, Xavier, Old Dominion, Dayton, Richmond

Neutral: Alabama, Clemson, Long Beach State, St. Peters, Arkansas

Cupcakes: Cornell, Iowa, UMass, Longwood, NJIT

That about wraps up Seton Hall’s OOC schedule. I’ll go on record and say that Seton Hall goes 10-2.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter for more Seton Hall, Big East, Big Ten, and Penn State blog entries:

Big East Basketball Preview – Part 2

Tier 2 of the Big East consists of solid teams that will be fighting to remain off the bubble and a team or two that are just slightly less talented than the first tier. As we near March, expect #7 and #8 to be bubble teams while #5 and #6 are fighting for a better NCAA tournament seed.

5. West Virginia Mountaineers 31-7 (13-5) – Look for WVU to regress this season. Replacing De’Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Wellington Smith (50% of scoring) will be a little too tough for WVU to do while expecting to match last season’s success. While losing key forwards, WVU also has back court issues. The lack of a true point guard hurt them at times last year. Darryl Bryant and Joe Mazzulla will likely share the 1 again. Mazzulla, Dalton Pepper and maybe even freshman guard Noah Cottrill will really have to step up in the back court. Look for Pepper to start at the 2.
Any way you spin it, WVU will likely not win 30 games again this season.

6. Marquette Golden Eagles 22-12 (11-7) – Marquette was picked 12th in last season’s Big East Coaches Poll and pleasantly surprised by making the NCAA tournament. Buzz Williams has gained the reputation of getting the most out of his players; something he will have to do again this season to assure a return trip to the Dance. The Golden Eagles lose 3 major players in Lazar Hayward, Maurice Acker and David Cubillan. Returning guards Johnson-Odom and Buycks will have to cover the ground lost in the back court.

Marquette has a superb recruiting class coming in who will hopefully learn on the job. Guard Vander Blue and wing Jamail Jones were both ESPNU Top 100 recruits. JUCO transfer Jae Crowder will also challenge for major minutes.
Do not be surprised if Marquette repeats its 2009-10 performance.

7. Seton Hall Pirates 19-13 (9-9) – After a, how should we put it, eventful offseason, Seton Hall is poised to crack the Big East’s Top 8. The Pirates lose senior guard Eugene Harvey, wing Robert Mitchell and reserve center John Garcia. They are returning 4 starters and are adding the transfer Eniel Polynice from Ole Miss. Most importantly, the Pirates have a new captain at the helm: Kevin Willard.

The Pirates will be led by standout shooting guard Jeremy Hazell, master rebounder Herb Pope, scrappy Jeff Robinson and emerging point guard Jordan Theodore. If the Pirates can add to the season they had last year, do not be surprised to see the Pirates in the Top 8 and playing in the NCAA tournament.

8. Notre Dame 23-12 (10-8) – If you asked me last January how I thought Notre Dame would fair without Luke Harangody, I would tell you, not well at all. But based upon Mike Brey’s ability to invent a brand new Notre Dame in the Big East tournament and NCAA tournament, I’m more confident that the Irish can almost replace ‘Gody. However, Notre Dame also loses point guard Tory Jackson and fellow guard Jonathan Peoples (63% of scoring overall). Irish fans will look upon returnees Tim Abromaitis, Ben Hansbrough, Tyrone Nash and Carlton Scott to pick up some serious slack. Scott Martin, the transfer from Purdue, will also see major minutes.

Notre Dame should be a bubble team, based on how well Mike Brey is able to mesh his returning players together into a cohesive team.

Tier 3 will be released this Wednesday, October 27th. Stay tuned, and be sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest NCAAB news: http://twitter.com/The_Bracket_Man

Big East Basketball Preview – Part 1

The day is upon us, finally. I’m ready to unveil my Big East preview…

The league has a few wild card teams this season in St. Johns, Louisville, Marquette and Seton Hall as well as the perennial powerhouses (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Villanova) and the basement dwellers (Providence, Rutgers, Depaul).

I will break the 16 teams into several tiers as I see fit. I will give a brief overview of each team as well as include team additions and losses. Today, I will reveal my first tier  of Big East teams. Enjoy!

1. Pittsburgh Panthers 25-9 (13-5) – Pittsburgh is set to build off a very solid 2009-10 campaign. They shouldn’t have too much trouble doing this because the only impact player they lost is guard Jermaine Dixon. Look for the back court of Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker to continue to rapidly improve. McGhee, Brown and Robinson will remain as the main forwards in Jamie Dixon’s front court rotation. Don’t sleep on Lamar Patterson or Talib Zanna, who were both red shirted last season.

Assuming this closely nit TEAM continues to improve at the same rate as last season, Pittsburgh should have no trouble finishing in the Top 3 and possibly winning the Big East regular season title.

2. Syracuse Orangemen 30-5 (15-3) – ‘Cuse loses some big guns in Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku, and Wes Johnson (48% of scoring). However, they replace them with the McDonalds All-American center Fabricio Melo and standout shooting guard Dion Waiters. Syracuse still has solid forwards in Kris Joseph and Rick Jackson as well as emerging guards in Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche.

Syracuse has to replace some big players, but it looks like they will be able to reload well enough to finish in the Top 3.

3. Villanova Wildcats 25-8 (13-5) – Villanova is looking to bounce back after a disappointing and tumultuous NCAA tournament appearance last season.

Villanova loses star point guard Scottie Reynolds as well as fellow guard Reggie Reynolds. They also lose reserve Taylor King, who decided to leave the program. If Villanova wants to finish in the Top 4 of the Big East again, they will have to will the huge hole left by Reynolds. Last year’s solid freshman class of Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou will have to really step up this season.

4. Georgetown Hoyas 23-11 (10-8) – Georgetown has all of its NCAA tournament team back from last season except one key cog, the engine: Greg Monroe. Their being in the Top 4 of the BE all depends on how they replace the NBA lottery pick. Georgetown will have one of the best back courts in the country between Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark. They will have to take the pressure off of Georgetown’s questionable front court consisting of Julian Vaughn, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims. I can see John Thompson III going with some smaller lineups to hide their apparent weakness upfront.

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That concludes the first tier of Big East teams. I will post all team losses, additions, transfers and misc. tidbits after the release of tier 4.

Tier 2 will be released this Monday, October 25th.

I hope this was a worthwhile read, and remember to follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/The_Bracket_Man

Welcome to the new site!

I’ll be using this site for the upcoming 2010-11 NCAA season. It seems a bit more professional and customizable than the previous blog host.

I’ll be releasing Big Ten and Big East previews shortly, be sure to follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/The_Bracket_Man