Top 5 Big East teams through Week 4 — Tuesday Top 5

1. Syracuse (7-0)

Photo Courtesy of SU Basketball/Flickr

The Orange look good to start off the year with a NIT Season Tip-Off Championship and solid wins over Virginia Tech and Stanford, but the real test comes Friday, Dec. 2 vs. Florida. Syracuse has the deepest team I’ve seen in a while with 10 guys that can contribute. I like the slimmer versions of Dion Waiters and Fab Melo to go along with a great core that includes Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and Brandon Triche.

2. Louisville (7-0)
Louisville remains unbeaten and got a nice victory over Butler without starting point guard Peyton Siva. With Siva running the show I think the Cardinals could be an explosive team. For that to be true Louisville also needs to stay healthy, especially the strong backcourt of Siva, Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric.

3. UConn (6-1)
Blowing a 17-point lead and losing to Central Florida was a wakeup call to the defending National Champions. It was the first tournament loss in a long time, but showed the gaps they need to fill without Kemba Walker. The next day in an overtime win over No. 20 Florida State, the Huskies may have found it in Ryan Boatright. The freshman guard is another playmaker and can help running the team with Shabazz Napier being an improved scorer this season.

4. Marquette (6-0)
I’ve been saying this all offseason, that Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder will be the one-two punch that carries the Golden Eagles. They are undefeated, but still they haven’t played anyone. Besides the two-point nail biter against Norfolk State, Marquette hasn’t been challenged. They will this Saturday though, when they take on the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers on the road at the tough-to-win-at Kohl Center. If they win, a slide up in the rankings is likely.

5. Pittsburgh (5-1)
The Panthers took a rough 86-76 home loss to Long Beach State early in the season, but have recovered with three straight. I still like this team. Ashton Gibbs is a great player to have at the center of your team and if Khem Birch can do what he’s done in his first two starts (10 rebounds vs. Penn; 11 vs. Robert Morris –both wins), Pitt might have a shot this year.

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Louisville Season Preview

2011-2012 Projected Starting Lineup

albcaesars/Flickr

G Peyton Siva
G Chris Smith
G Kyle Kuric
F Jared Swoopshire
F Rakeem Buckles

Key reserves: Stephan Van Treese, junior; Chane Behanan, freshman; Wayne Blackshear, freshman; Mike Marra, junior

Louisville battled through injuries last season and looked good going into the NCAA Tournament, but after a shocking loss to Kenneth Faried and Morehead State had me scratching my head.

Bailey Richards/Flickr

But Louisville comes back looking strong in 2011-2012. Peyton Siva showed that he can be a dynamic point guard in the Big East and I believe he will have a breakout season.

Jared Swoopshire should be coming back after a missing all of last season with an injury.

Louisville also has a great core of guards: Siva, Chris Smith, and Kyle Kuric. The backcourt is the strength with an undersized frontcourt.

Even if Cardinals have a so-so year, it’s okay because Rick Pitino has set the foundation for the future. Louisville had the 8th incoming freshman class according to ESPN. Forwards Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear look to make immediate impact this season.

The only concern I have with the Cardinals is Pitino. Never been a fan of Pitino, especially

Bailey Richards/Flickr

when he ran the Boston Celtics into the ground. But to me it appears Pitino is just waiting to make that jump to the studio. Even after a stunning first round exit last season, Pitino had no problem providing analysis throughout the rest of the tournament. Is Pitino more focused his team or his future career?

ESPN, CBS Rick Pitino is walking through that door.