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Conference Preview: Louisville is the favorite in Big East after run to Final Four

Oct 23, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT


Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

It came as no surprise last week when the Big East coaches resoundingly named Louisville the preseason favorite to win the conference, but what about the other storylines?

This year’s edition of the Big East has all of the ingredients for drama: realignment storylines, television negotiations, and a little preseason war of words.

Let’s break it all down:

Five Things to Know

1. “Realignment” is the word in the Big East. Absent at Media Day was a longtime fixture, Bob Huggins, whose West Virginia Mountaineers are now members of the Big 12. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are both entering their final season in the conference before heading to the ACC. Notre Dame is likely negotiating some sort of deal to head to the ACC early, as well. On the horizon wait Memphis, Temple, UCF, Houston, and SMU, ready to enter the league. Prepare yourself for frequent “this could be the final match-up…”-type storylines as the season progresses.

2. Louisville is the preseason favorite to win the conference, but much of its success hinges on Big East Preseason Player of the Year Peyton Siva. We saw different versions of the then-junior point guard last season. Who will ultimately prevail this season, the player who was the catalyst for Louisville’s run in the Big East and NCAA tournaments or the player who averaged 5.4 points and 3.6 turnovers per game for a seven-game stretch in late December and January?

3. Connecticut is in a season of change. Not only are they banned from the Big East and NCAA tournaments, but longtime head coach Jim Calhoun announced his retirement earlier this year. Former Husky assistant Kevin Ollie now takes over the program. Players say that, though more stern, Ollie is the same optimistic leader as they remember him in his assistant role. He might be just what they need in this season of transition.

4. Syracuse has lost a number of key pieces from last season, among them Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, Kris Joseph, and Scoop Jardine, but comes into 2012-13 as a top-15 team nationally that is ready to compete for a conference title. Expect sophomore Michael Carter-Williams to have a breakout year.

5. Stan Heath and South Florida surprised a lot of people last season when they finished 22-14 and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. Point guard Anthony Collins returns for his sophomore season and will be key. Interesting note: Despite the slow offensive tempo that produced just 59.2 points per game last season, Heath told at Big East media day that this year’s team is built to play faster, so don’t be surprised if we see Collins lead the “Running of the Bulls.”

Impact Newcomers

C Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)

The 6-10 Adams was chosen by league coaches to be the Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year and will have expectations to match in 2012-13. The New Zealand native likely has been praised by scouts for his upside.

C DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse)

The local prospect will have to help in compensating for the loss of Fab Melo to the NBA. Reports are that he has lost significant weight (he was last listed at 6-9, 275 pounds), which should make him more mobile.

F Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)

Rick Pitino and the Cardinals were fortunate enough to land Harrell after he decommitted from Virginia Tech this spring. Point guard Peyton Siva says he already sees improvement in the 6-8, 215 forward, who should provide more stability in the frontcourt.

F Stephen Domingo (Georgetown)

Domingo was a member of the Class of 2013 until he committed to Georgetown and sped up his high school timeline. The lanky California native should provide the three-point threat that the Hoyas need.

F JaKarr Sampson (St. John’s)

Sampson is an elite athlete who returns to the Red Storm after taking a post-graduate year at Brewster Academy in 2011-12. He has a different skill set than Moe Harkless, who left for the NBA after one season in Queens, but has a high ceiling and an undeniable “wow” factor when his athleticism is on full display.

G Kris Dunn (Providence)

With Ricky Ledo being ruled ineligible to play this season, Providence head coach Ed Cooley will rely more on his other star recruit, Dunn. Injury is holding him back for now, but if he doesn’t redshirt, he will change the complexion of the Friar offense.

Breakout Players

F Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)

Carter-Williams played sparingly during his freshman season, but he’ll have an increased role because of the loss of key pieces to the NBA.

G Anthony Collins (South Florida)

If coach Stan Heath wants to implement a faster brand of offense, Collins is his man. Quick and explosive, the sophomore is ready to lead.

G Vander Blue (Marquette)

Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder have moved on to the NBA, which leaves Blue with a chance to shine.

G Ryan Boatright (Connecticut)

Plagued by NCAA investigations last season, Boatright should be able to focus and find his groove in 2012-13 as part of a backcourt with Shabazz Napier.

G Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)

He averaged 12.3 points and led the Irish with 5.0 assists per game last season, but didn’t get the national recognition that he should be able to grab this year.

Player of the Year: G Peyton Siva (Louisville)

The biggest question will be which Peyton Siva shows up for most of the season, but if the end of the season is any indication, we could be in for a special season from him.

Coach Under Pressure: Oliver Purnell (DePaul)

After a 3-15 season in Big East play, Purnell and his reported $1.8 million annual contract will have to prove some things in 2012-13. The Blue Demons are still projected to finish in the bottom third of the conference.

All-Conference Team

(*) denotes Player of the Year

G Peyton Siva (Louisville)*

G Vincent Council (Providence)

F Otto Porter (Georgetown)

F Jack Cooley (Notre Dame)

C Gorgui Dieng (Louisville)

Predicted Finish

1. Louisville–Coming off a Final Four run and with Siva at the point, the Cardinals are the favorite.

2. Syracuse—Personnel losses shouldn’t be a problem for the Orange. They have reloaded and will be solidly in the nation’s Top 15.

3. Notre Dame—Jack Cooley and Scott Martin are key, as are guards Jerian Grant and Erik Atkins. Could be the final Big East season for the Irish.

4. Cincinnati—Yancy Gates’ departure will hurt Mick Cronin’s team, but guard Sean Kilpatrick should be able to continue capitalize on momentum from last season.

5. Georgetown—The top three scorers for the Hoyas—Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson, and Henry Sims—have all left. This is Otto Porter’s chance to step up.

6. Pittsburgh—With no Ashton Gibbs, Tray Woodall takes on more responsibilities in the backcourt. Big man Steven Adams will play a role, as will transfer Trey Zeigler.

7. USF—The element of surprise is gone for Stan Heath’s team. Can they compete when other teams expect it?

8. Marquette—Crowder and Johnson-Odom aren’t easily replaced. If we’ve learned one thing, though, it’s not to underestimate Buzz Williams.

9. Connecticut—The general sentiment around the program is that this is not a loss season, despite the postseason ban. We’ll see what Kevin Ollie can do in his first season.

10. St. John’s—Steve Lavin returns after undergoing prostate cancer surgery and has another young, talented recruiting class coming to the Red Storm.

11. Rutgers—Coach Mike Rice began to lay the foundation with his recruiting class last season and now he will build on it. Eligible transfer Wally Judge should help.

12. Villanova—Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek have departed, take with them a combined 30 points per game. Wake Forest transfer Tony Chennault and freshman Ryan Arcidiacono will compete for the starting PG spot.

13. DePaul—Cleveland Melvin once again is the centerpiece. Injuries plagued the Blue Demons last season.

14. Providence—Ricky Ledo being ruled ineligible hurts the Friars in the short term, but the long-term outlook is bright.

15. Seton Hall—Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope have left, and the NCAA’s decision not to grant a hardship waiver to guard Sterling Gibbs will make life more difficult in Jersey.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. gatordontplay - Oct 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Louisville is the best team in their state as well..

  2. imforbigblue - Oct 23, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Really Tard is that why UK is rocking #8 and you havent won a title in what 20 years? Or is it the fact that Cal owns Rick since hes been at UK? Or you went 0-2 vs UK last year do i need to go on???

  3. gatordontplay - Oct 24, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    Your a fucking idiot im a Carolina fan. The #1 program in the last 50 years ranked by espn.. The school that has 2nc since 2000, one more than uk. The school that has 3 bob Cousy awards in Felton Lawson and Marshall since 2000 but you call uk point guard u.
    Idk care for Louisville but them and Indiana has to be the favorites dumb ass.
    By the way I was surprised to see you comment on USA today’s uk Noel’s story thought that was above your IQ..

  4. gatordontplay - Oct 24, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Your a fucking idiot im a Carolina fan. The #1 program in the last 50 years ranked by espn.. The school that has 2nc since 2000, one more than uk. The school that has 3 bob Cousy awards in Felton Lawson and Marshall since 2000 but you call uk point guard u.
    Idk care for Louisville but them and Indiana has to be the favorites dumb ass.
    By the way I was surprised to see you comment on USA today’s uk Noel’s story thought that was above your IQ..

  5. imforbigblue - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    LOL….you may have been the best team in the past 10 years or whatever, but that was before cal came to UK and now UK is the best team in college basketball the past three years who has put 15 players into the NBA in the past three years. We’ve had two #1 players and the #2 player the past two years. We set the NBA draft record 5 players in the first round and 6 players over all and o yeah UNC has yet to beat UK with Cal as its head coach. By the way have fun starting off in the 20’s this year while UK will be a top 5 team working on another NC while you wont even win the ACC.

    Kast time i checked UK is still the #1 basketball team in history and holds almost EVERY record in the book besides most titles because UCLA bought all of those. Plus if you ask me your a FL thats to ashamed so you call yourself a UNC fan like it matters your still nothing to UK

  6. gatordontplay - Oct 28, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Why would I be ashamed of fl? They have a better coach than yours. The one who has also won 2nc compared to cal’s 1. The one who turned down the coaching job from uk.. If ucla cheated what is cal doing? The same fucking thing you fucking moron. Just like you said Maryland. Cheated to get the Harrison twins then they comment to uk..

    You failed to mention you comment you posted in the USA today story on Noel’s

  7. imforbigblue - Oct 28, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    LOL….its ok with the players UK has coming in for 2013 Cals #2 tiltle isnt far away and UK never went after Roy williams to come to UK you fucking moron! Plus if you didnt think UCLA and there coach wasnt the biggest cheaters in college basketball history do a little research on google woodsons own players even saud they were paid to come there you fucking moron!

    Plus i did say it was really shady that UA were trying to get the twins to go to maryland you didnt see nike calling them trying to get them to UK. At the end of the day UK and Cal is better then UNC and Roy and just like last year we will prove it again this year douch bag

  8. imforbigblue - Oct 28, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    The question is: Who is the most overrated coach in the country?

    1.Roy Williams (North Carolina): 23 percent
    2.Rick Barnes (Texas): 17 percent
    3.Scott Drew (Baylor): 11 percent
    4.Steve Lavin (St. John’s): 9 percent
    5.Jay Wright (Villanova): 6 percent
    6.Ben Howland (UCLA): 6 percent
    7.Jim Boeheim (Syracuse): 4 percent
    8.Tommy Amaker (Harvard): 4 percent

  9. gatordontplay - Oct 29, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Lmao you clearly can’t read for shit I said Donovan was offered the coaching job at uk and is a better coach than cal..
    Yes there was a poll that came out that said Roy Williams was the most over rated coach in America. The same group of coaches that did the poll and the same writer also did a poll on the biggest cheaters in college
    Which leads us to our next question.

    The question: Who is perceived by college coaches to be the biggest cheater in the sport?

    John Calipari (Kentucky): 36 percent
    Scott Drew (Baylor): 34 percent
    Ben Howland (UCLA): 12 percent
    Jim Calhoun (Connecticut): 7 percent
    Tom Crean (Indiana): 3 percent
    Dave Rice (UNLV): 3 percent

    Hahahahaha. Is one poll creditable and the others not. Or is the poll a group of Haters like you always call out like the sheep boy cries wolf??
    You set your self up dumbass
    Took the bait and was reeled in

  10. gatordontplay - Oct 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    I don’t expect you to reply after just taking the beat down you just took there so I’ll catch you on the next story you comment on after you come out from hiding HATER…

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