Top 5 Big East teams through Week 5 — Tuesday Top 5

Photo Courtesy of News House/Flickr

1. Syracuse (8-0) – The Orange remain unbeaten and pick up a non-conference top-10 win over Florida.

2. Louisville (7-0) – Peyton Siva and his Louisville Cardinals look very impressive early, like Cuse, picked up a big win in the Big East/SEC Challenge over No. 19 Vanderbilt.

3. Marquette (7-0) – Have to move the Golden Eagles up in the rankings after winning a road game at the Kohl Center over Wisconsin. It’s rare to win on the road against Bo Ryan’s Badgers and it needs to be recognized.

4. Connecticut (7-1)Ryan Boatright has already started to help this team and now the Huskies can also move up in the rankings next week if they beat newly-ranked Harvard this week.

5. Pittsburgh (7-1) – Still waiting for Jamie Dixon and Ashton Gibbs to really make this team move. After a weird loss to Long Beach State, the Panthers have won five straight. A positive is Pitt doesn’t play a ranked opponent until 2012, which means Pitt should be racking up more and more wins.

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Pittsburgh Season Preview

2011-2012 Projected Starting Lineup

PG Tray Woodall, junior
SG Ashton Gibbs, senior
SF J.J. Moore, sophomore
PF Nasir Robinson, senior
C Dante Taylor, junior

Key reserves: Lamar Patterson, sophomore; Khem Birch, freshman; Talib Zanna, sophomore

Last year’s Big East Conference regular season champion is plagued with postseason failure. A third-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to Butler didn’t help the Panthers case after a couple of hiccups in the postseason.

It’s another tough season in the Big East and to me the Panthers can’t keep up with the top tier, UConn and Syracuse.

Arthur Wessel/Flickr

Yes, they have Ashton Gibbs, one of the nation’s sharpest shooters, but I feel this isn’t nearly as good as last season’s. The only other returner is Nasir Robinson. Robinson is undersized, but is a hard-nosed player at 6-foot-5. Robinson will be teamed with Dante Taylor in the frontcourt, who is replacing the graudated Gary McGhee (I’m pretty sure McGhee’s ankles are still floating around the court of Madison Square Garden).

The Panthers will be a tough interior defensive team is freshman Khem Birch, a McDonald’s All-American can contribute early. But the frontcourt provides little on the offensive end.
Gibbs is going be more aggressive this season scoring. Pitt’s second option is small forward J.J. Moore.

This season postseason failure may not be a disappointed as I don’t feel this team shouldn’t have high expectations from the previous seasons.

Preseason All-Big East

Jeremy Lamb, UConn

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 11.1
RPG: 4.6
APG: 1.6

Lamb is also my preseason Big East Player of the Year. He came on late last season and provided that extra scoring option alongside Kemba Walker, which was needed for the eventual national champions. Lamb is a top NBA prospect entering his sophomore campaign. He is a lanky 6-foot-5 with a deadly stroke and moves extremely well without the ball. Lamb can also able to create for himself by getting to the rim. With an incredible wingspan that stretches out over seven feet Lamb is also a good rebounder and underrated defender.

Kris Joseph, Syracuse

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 14.4
RPG: 5.0
APG: 2.1

Joseph could have left for the NBA this summer and probably would have been a first-round pick. But he decided instead to return for his senior season in hopes of winning a national title. Last season Joseph was asked to fill the role of Wesley Johnson and he did a nice job once he began to play his own game. Joseph is a great athlete. He’s quick and is hard to stop once he penetrates the lane. He’s also versatile defender. Jump shot still needs work, but overall it seems Joseph improves each year.

Maalik Wayns, Villanova

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 13.8
RPG: 2.8
APG: 4.5

Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher are both gone. Villanova’s offense this season will go through junior point guard Maalik Wayns. He’s the Wildcats top scoring threat and he’s a good one. He came on later in the season, averaging over 20 in Villanova’s last four Big East games. He is one of the quickest players in the Big East. Despite his 6-foot-1 stature, Wayns has no problem getting into the lane and scoring over bigger opponents. His shot needs to improve and Wayns needs to continue to cut down on the turnovers.

Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 16.8
RPG: 2.3
APG: 2.8

Gibbs tested the waters of the NBA Draft this summer, but decided to return to Pitt. Good news for head coach Jamie Dixon, he retains one of the conference’s best three-point shooters. Gibbs knocked down a remarkable 49 percent of his threes last season. Gibbs has a pure stroke from deep. He can come off the dribble or catch and shoot. Gibbs is steady with the ball and rarely turns it over. With only two returning starters this season for the Panthers, Gibbs will have to step up his game, not just his scoring.

Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame

2010-2011
PPG: 15.4
RPG: 6.1
APG: 1.9

Like Gibbs, Abromaitis is another great shooter from deep. Abromaitis knocked down almost 43 percent of his three-point attempts last season. Although he known to stretch the defense with his shooting, the 6-foot-8 senior, is not a bad scoring threat inside. He uses an array of shot fakes and ball fakes to get his defender off balance and then beats them with mid-range jumper or finishes at the basket. Overall, he’s a complete player offensively.

Honorable mention: Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette; Peyton Siva, Louisville; Yancy Gates, Cincinnati; Kevin Jones, West Virginia