Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Villanova tabbed as Big East favorite

Villanova, coming off its first Final Four appearance in 25 years, was the pick in the Big East Conference men's basketball preseason poll with West Virginia second and Connecticut third. They were the only schools to receive first-place votes from the 16 coaches.

The Big East held its annual preseason media day Wednesday in New York.

Villanova, which received 10 first-place votes from the league's coaches, boasts a deep backcourt led by senior Scottie Reynolds. West Virginia's No. 2 position is the highest in the preseason poll for the Mountaineers since they joined the league for the 1995-96 season. WVU, which had five first-place votes, has four starters returning.

Notre Dame senior forward Luke Harangody joined Georgetown great Patrick Ewing as the only players to be chosen Big East preseason player of the year more than once.

The 6-8 Harangody, who led the conference in scoring last season and was second in rebounding. He was the Big East player of the year as a sophomore and was the preseason choice last season.

Harangody averaged 23.3 points and 11.8 rebounds as a first-team all-conference pick last season. Joining him on the six-man preseason first team were seniors Deonta Vaughn of Cincinnati, Lazar Hayward of Marquette, Scottie Reynolds of Villanova and Da'Sean Butler of West Virginia, and sophomore Greg Monroe of Georgetown.

Lance Stephenson of Cincinnati was selected preseason rookie of the year.

Connecticut, which also reached the Final Four last season, received one first-place vote. Louisville, the defending regular-season and tournament champion, was fourth followed by Georgetown, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, St. John's, Marquette, Providence, South Florida, Rutgers and DePaul.

1 Villanova (10) 218
2 West Virginia (5) 215
3 Connecticut (1) 185
4 Louisville 179
5 Georgetown 161
6 Syracuse 152
7 Cincinnati 135
8 Notre Dame 132
9 Pitt 119
10 Seton Hall 110
11 St. John's 82
12 Marquette 78
13 Providence 52
14 USF 44
15 Rutgers 43
16 DePaul 15

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