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Big East coaches pick Pittsburgh to win conference


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Big East Coaches Like Pittsburgh

By Associated Press

document.write(getElapsed("20061025T140929Z"));5 hours agoUPDATED 4 HOURS 31 MINUTES AGO

NEW YORK - Pittsburgh, which returns eight of its top 10 players from last year's team that reached the Big East championship game, was picked No. 1 in the preseason poll by the league's coaches.

Seven-foot senior center Aaron Gray of Pittsburgh was chosen the preseason player of the year in balloting announced Wednesday.

The Panthers, who went 25-8 and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, received 10 of the 16 first-place votes, while Georgetown, which was No. 1 on four ballots, was second.

Syracuse, last season's conference tournament champion, and Marquette, each of which received one first-place vote, were third and fourth, respectively.

Connecticut, which lost its top six scorers from the team that fell one win shy of the Final Four, was fifth, followed by Louisville, Villanova, DePaul, St. John's, Providence, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Seton Hall and South Florida.

Gray averaged 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds last season and was voted the conference's most improved player.

Besides Gray, three other players _ juniors Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert of Georgetown and sophomore Dominic James of Marquette _ were unanimous selections to the 11-man all-conference team.

The others on the team were: Jeff Adrien of Connecticut; Wilson Chandler and Sammy Mejia of DePaul; Juan Palacios of Louisville; Lamont Hamilton of St. John's; Terrence Roberts of Syracuse; and Curtis Sumpter of Villanova.

Paul Harris, a 6-5 forward for Syracuse, was selected preseason rookie of the year.

The Big East, which had a record eight teams chosen for the NCAA tournament last season, said its postseason tournament will remain at 12 teams.

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I agree with the following:

1) UConn is going to slump

2) Georgetown is evil

3) USF is the worst team

Villanova's hit wasn't even CLOSE to UConn's, and lets not forget that Nova tied UConn for the Reg. Season title (and lasted a round longer in the Big East tourney). Sumpter coming back eliminates some of the issues with losing Foye and Ray. Losing Lowry changes the lineup a bit, but I'd actually venture that Scottie Reynolds is BETTER than Lowry, besides, Nardi is going to play the point this season.

Villanova probably can't win the league, but we'll be better than everyone thinks (and I THINK better than Syracuse). We lost three starters, but we're returning three as well. It's a step back, but I saw some of the kids play last weekend, and We've got a few guys who are underrated by the experts.

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