Big East M5: Halloween Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on October 31st, 2012

  1. Roundball guru Ken Pomeroy released his preseason rankings of all 347 Division I teams yesterday, which contained some surprising implications for the Big East. Most notably, Pomeroy went against the grain in ranking Syracuse ahead of Louisville and ranking Pittsburgh in the top 25 (#4 in the Big East behind Notre Dame). The disparity between the perception of Louisville as a sure fire top-three team and the Cardinals’ #8 national ranking in Pomeroy’s system does emphasize a glaring question mark surrounding Rick Pitino’s squad: How will this team generate substantially more offense than it did a year ago? The Cards’ had the worst adjusted offense ranking of any team in Pomeroy’s preseason top 24. While Louisville fans anticipate greater efficiency in 2012-13 for good reason, the offense remains a major question mark until guys like lauded sophomore Wayne Blackshear and George Mason transfer Luke Hancock demonstrate an ability to score at a consistent clip.
  2. Speaking of Louisville, the big news out of the Derby City yesterday was that Athletic Director Tom Jurich inked a five-year contract extension with Rick Pitino that will keep him at the school through 2021-22. If Pitino ends up fulfilling his contract, he’ll be 70 before he steps down as Denny Crum’s successor, and Louisville will have had only two head coaches in fifty years. This newfound commitment is quiet a departure from Pitino’s attitude last offseason, when he essentially set the stage for a 2017 retirement (a Final Four can have that effect on a body). Nonetheless, Jeff Goodman points out that the indecisive Pitino likely hasn’t changed his mind for the last time.
  3. Sports Illustrated released its Big East primer yesterday, ranking Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh at the top of the league, respectively, and naming Peyton Siva its conference MVP. The piece paints a bleak portrait of Kevin Ollie’s job security as he prepares to scramble in the undifferentiated middle of the Big East pack. It also points out that prior to last season, Jamie Dixon’s Pittsburgh teams had never finished outside of the top 54 nationally in defensive efficiency. Last season, Pitt dipped to #151 “thanks in large part to slipping from 19th to 229th in two-point defense,” and everyone saw the consequences. The arrival of Stephen Adams and Trey Zeigler will undoubtedly help, but they won’t instantly cure Pitt’s defensive woes.
  4. If you’re curious to read some impressions from Cincinnati’s first exhibition game on Monday, Bearcats Blog filed a thorough assessment of the good and the bad from UC’s 80-60 victory over Grand Valley State (MI). It seems UC’s dismal free throw shooting didn’t leave with Yancy Gates; the squad that finished #302 nationally in free throw percentage last year returned to its old form by shooting a collective 18-28 (64%) on Monday. Bearcats Blog cites poor rebounding as the biggest misgiving heading into this season, which was certainly validated after Cincinnati gave up 12 offensive rebounds to Grand Valley State. Nevertheless, very few first exhibition games are pretty, and Cincinnati managed to win by a deceptively comfortable margin. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Justin Jackson post a huge double-double against Bellarmine next Monday and make me eat my words.
  5. Yesterday, Bovada released its national title odds for the upcoming season. Five Big East teams appeared in the top 25 most heavily favored teams: Louisville (17/2), Syracuse (20/1), Georgetown (40/1), Cincinnati (50/1), and Pittsburgh (50/1). Interestingly Notre Dame (75/1), which has appeared in the top three of many preseason conference rankings, is the 8th most likely Big East team to win it all according to Bovada. Oddsmakers seem to be placing an emphasis on recent tournament performance: Kentucky is the most heavily favored team in the field despite losing most of last year’s talent, while Notre Dame’s tournament track record seems to have blemished its reputation in Vegas.
Will Tucker (116 Posts)

Kentucky native living and working in Washington, D.C. I write for RTC’s American Athletic Conference microsite in my spare time. Aside from college hoops, other sources of spiritual fulfillment include road trips, tacos, and bourbon. I try to incorporate all of them into my writing.


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