NCAA's Big East loaded again: So what else is new?

Feb 17, 2009 5:09 PM
Feist Facts by Jim Feist |

Once again the Big East is loaded with talented teams. Marquette, Cincinnati and Louisville entered three years ago joining powerhouses like UConn, Syracuse and Pitt to form a 16-team Super Conference.

Connecticut in 2004 was the last national champion from this power conference.

UConn: Coach Jim Calhoun’s Huskies lead the Big East in offensive rebounding, blocks and points allowed behind 6-7 senior Jeff Adrien (14 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and sophomore center 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet (13 ppg, 10 rpg). UConn hasn’t lost on the road and is a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS as a dog. The backcourt features and senior A.J. Price (12 ppg, 4.4 apg), a fine playmaker.

Pitt: Panthers coach Jamie Dixon has another set of dominant big men in 6-7 sophomore DeJuan Blair (15 ppg, 12.6 rpg) and 6-6 senior Sam Young (17.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg). Their defense allows 62 ppg and tops the Big East in rebounding margin. The backcourt is strong behind senior guard Levance Fields (11 ppg) and junior Jermaine Dixon, leading the conference in assists and three-point shooting.

Louisville: The Cardinals under Rick Pitino have an outstanding frontcourt in 6-9 junior Earl Clark (13 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and 6-6 sr Terrence Williams (13 ppg, 9 rpg). Williams does everything well, leading the team in scoring, rebounding and assists (4.6 apg). Louisville allows 38 percent shooting, second in the conference, and has been on a 6-3 run under the total.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles have already hit the 20-win mark. Unlike other Big East powers, they are getting it done with spectacular guard play behind seniors Jerel McNeal (20 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.8 apg) and Wesley Matthews (18.8 ppg). Both lead the team in scoring and shoot over 40 percent from long range. Marquette is second in the Big East in scoring and tops in shooting percentage (48 percent).

Villanova: The Wildcats can beat you with any style. They lead the Big East in scoring and also allow 40 percent shooting by opponents, third best. They can pound the glass with 6-8 senior Dante Cunningham (17 ppg, 7 rpg), the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Villanova also boasts a pair of electric guards in junior Scottie Reynolds (15.4 ppg) and sophomore Corey Fisher (10.7 ppg).