Big East Checkpoint: Buy, Sell, Hold

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on December 14th, 2011

Midway through December and it has already been an eventful college basketball season.  Teams have logged a fair sampling of games as they head into final exams and finish up the non-conference portion of their schedules, so we thought it would be a good time to assess the state of the Big East by comparing each team to… itself.  Below is the Preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll by projected order of finish.  We are going a little Jim Cramer on you (BooYah Skee-Daddy!), placing a Buy, Sell or Hold rating based on the team’s play to date versus preseason expectations.

1 (tie). Connecticut (8-1): I am no stock market expert but when I see a team as loaded as UConn sitting at No. 9 in the most recent poll, buying stock in the Huskies is a no-brainer. Jim Calhoun has feuded with center Alex Oriakhi and questioned his team’s drive early in the season, but this team is too deep and too talented to be ranked that low in national polls. And when you consider how much freshmen Ryan Boatright and Andre Drummond will improve over the next few months, I am already starting to look for a new luxury sedan to buy with the money from my winning. Rating: BUY

Boatright Has Given the Huskies a Lift (John Wolke, Hartford Courant)

1 (tie). Syracuse (10-0): There is no way we can buy right now and that is good news for Syracuse fans, because the ‘Cuse is on top and can rise no higher at the moment. If this were a quick trade we’d sell and look to buy back after their first loss because it is hard to envision the #1 ranked team in the country staying there all year, but we are in this for the long haul and so are the Orange. Rating: HOLD

3. Louisville (9-0): It’s impossible not to be impressed with the job Rick Pitino has done at Louisville this season given the team’s rash of injuries and lack of top-flight scorers, but I am still selling the Cardinals. For starters, their early season schedule has been very soft and their only difficult opponent was Vanderbilt, whom they needed overtime to outlast. There is no doubt that their defense and depth makes them a top-10 team, but it’s hard to put them ahead of teams like UConn and North Carolina because  they just don’t have the scoring punch or the go-to player in crunch-time.  If you are determined to hold Louisville stock, you probably won’t lose much, but now is the time to sell high. Rating: SELL

4. Pittsburgh (9-1): Two weeks ago, I would have rushed to my broker and begged him to sell my Pittsburgh stock, but now I am not so sure. The Panthers have really struggled thus far this season despite just one loss, and to make matters worse, they are missing their best playmaker, Tray Woodall, for at least a few more weeks. That said, they are still the #2 team in the country in scoring efficiency, and early season playing time for their key freshman will only help as the season goes on. Their defense has been abysmal and needs to improve, but I have too much faith in Jamie Dixon to sell this stock before conference play is already underway. Rating: HOLD

5. Cincinnati (5-3):  Expectations drive stocks and no Big East team had more increased expectations bestowed upon it coming into this season than the Bearcats, who have disappointed on many levels.  They are fortunate the suspensions leveled from the Xavier brawl will only cause them to be shorthanded for one conference game.  I still cannot see them cracking the top eight, much less the top five, anymore.  Rating: SELL

6. Marquette (9-0): Any team that beats Wisconsin in the Kohl Center deserves a fair amount of praise and the Golden Eagles are no exception. They are deep, experienced, and talented to boot and they are certainly better than their preseason conference ranking shows, but for now I am going to hold off buying in bulk. For starters, their best interior defender, Chris Otule, is out indefinitely with a knee injury, and one of the players assigned to replace him, Jamil Wilson, sprained his ankle and is questionable for this weekend’s game against Wisconsin-Green Bay. This team is primed for a tournament run, but this is Marquette, and there will be a lot of close games they need to win along the way. Rating: HOLD

7. West Virginia (6-2): The Mountaineers have the feel of that steady performing dividend paying stock — not flashy or sexy but they perform.  A team that will continue to improve as the year goes on and peak at the right time.  They will continue to rely heavily on the experienced trio consisting of seniors Kevin Jones (20.4 PPG, 11.4 RPG) and reining Big East Player of the Week Darryl “Truck” Bryant (17.0 PPG, 3.2 APG) and junior Deniz Kilicli (12.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG) as young players such as freshman point guard Jabarie Hinds develops.  Rating: HOLD

8. Villanova (6-4): Unlike most, I wasn’t ready to hop off the Villanova bandwagon until I watched them play Boston University last night. There is no way a team with that much talent should ever be losing to a team like BU, but the Wildcats needed to overcome a small halftime deficit to win. This is a perimeter-oriented team that doesn’t shoot the ball well. Star guard Maalik Wayns was 3-14 from the field last night and the team shot just 37% from the field as a whole. Mouphtaou Yarou and seldom-used Maurice Sutton are the only players shooting better than 45% and that might not just be early season struggles. This team is headed for another late season collapse and a first-round tournament exit — if they are lucky. Rating: SELL

9. Notre Dame (7-4): Ironically in our early season ‘Catching Up with the Big East’ piece we made a stock reference to the Irish and rated them a buy.  Just goes to show you how hoop hopes can turn just as easily as our favorite equities.  In the early season case, Notre Dame’s hope had sprung eternal.  They were 2-0 and biding their time as they waited out star senior Tim Abromaitis’ suspension. As Irish luck would not normally have it, they got Abromaitis back, lost two straight and then lost him for the year with a torn ACL. Mike Brey will have to turn in his best coaching job to keep the Irish from the lower tier of the league.  Rating: SELL

10. Georgetown (8-1):  The #16 Hoyas have thrived despite a young team and a tough schedule.  They have wins over two ranked teams (Memphis and Alabama) and their only loss was a four-point setback to #12 Kansas.  Not surprisingly they have been spurred by their veterans in seniors Jason Clark (16.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG) and Henry Sims (12.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.7 APG) along with junior Hollis Thompson (14.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG) with more than an honorable mention from freshman forward Otto Porter (8.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG).  Rating: BUY

Clark Has Helped Put Georgetown Ahead of Schedule (credit: dcsportsforever.com)

11. Rutgers (5-5): The Scarlet Knights are too young and thin to hold any stock in this year, but I will be asking my broker to keep an eye on them down the road. Mike Rice is building a solid foundation for this woeful program, but fans need to be patient, especially this season. They will get better as the season goes on, and you better believe Rice will have this team playing every opponent in the conference tough. But it takes time to build a talented roster, and while pieces like Eli Carter and Myles Mack are good starting points, they can’t be counted on just yet. Rating: SELL

12. St. John’s (4-5): Are you telling me you haven’t sold off all your Red Storm stock yet? I have already placed my entire life savings against Steve Lavin‘s crew this season. Lavin still may turn this program around, but he needs to get healthy and back on the sideline first. This team is young and not very deep and things will only get worse when starting Nurideen Lindsey transfers out of the program at the end of the semester. They are worth keeping on eye on down the road, especially if Lavin keeps recruiting like he has been, but this season is pretty much lost already as far as NCAA Tournament hopes go and until Lavin gets healthy and stays healthy, it would be foolish to buy any St. John’s stock. Rating: SELL

13. Seton Hall (8-1): Reminiscent of a small growth stock, while Seton Hall’s play has been choppy at times, they are off to an encouraging start and have people wondering if they should jump in.   The Pirates also have a Player of the Year candidate in 6’8” senior forward Herb Pope (21.9 PPG, 11.3 RPG & who is looking for some followers on Twitter by the way… @hpope15… dare you to deny him) .  Furthermore, senior point guard Jordan Theodore is sixth in the nation in assists at 7.2 per game to go with his 14.0 points per game.  The Hall has also been stingy on defense, allowing  just  61.3 points per game.   Rating: BUY

14. South Florida (6-4): This is a team that figures to be Jeckyll and Hyde all year long.  You buy and they lose.  Then you sell and they win.  The Bulls have pieces for sure, plus their size and physicality led by 6’10” senior Augustus Gilchrist (11.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG) will give them a chance on most nights.  However they lack the offensive consistency and guard play needed to move up in this league.  They also have yet to win away from home in the non-conference which is not a good sign.   Rating: HOLD

15. Providence (9-2): Ed Cooley has brought the buzz back to Friartown.  Providence is a team trying to fix a bad balance sheet, which is a process that generally takes time.  The good news is not only are the Friars playing defense this year, they are actually playing it fairly well (64.1 PPG).  They are also executing better on offense and in late-game situations as evidenced in two recent close wins over Boston College and Bryant.  That said, we just said close wins over Boston College and Bryant so it stands to reason the Friars still project somewhere in the lower tier of the conference given the tougher competition.  However we think they will jump a spot or two.  Rating: BUY

16. DePaul (6-3): No one in their right mind would be on the Blue Demons’ future as it stands. Oliver Purnell looks like he has the program headed in the right direction, but it is still too early to give him the rubber stamp of approval. That said, I am buying DePaul for this season. No, they aren’t going to make the NCAA Tournament and they will still probably finish among the bottom five teams in the conference, but they aren’t the same pushover they have been the past few years. Their defense has been downright embarrassing this season, but three of their top four scorers are sophomores and they are deep enough and athletic enough to give some conference opponents trouble. So buy now while the stock is still incredibly low, just don’t go buy that new speedboat quite yet. Rating: BUY

Patrick Prendergast (74 Posts)

Twitter: @FriarFrenzy


Share this story

One Response to “Big East Checkpoint: Buy, Sell, Hold”

  1. BOtskey says:

    I’m buying Pitt and Seton Hall.

    Holding Syracuse, Louisville, Marquette, West Virginia, Georgetown and Providence.

    Selling UConn, Cincinnati, Villanova, Notre Dame, Rutgers, USF, St. John’s and DePaul.

Leave a Reply