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October 20, 2010

Pitt named preseason No. 1 in Big East

A year ago, no one knew what to expect from the Pitt men's basketball team. This time around, there's not quite so much uncertainty, as the Panthers were named Big East preseason No. 1 in a poll of conference coaches.

12 of 16 Big East coaches voted for Pitt, which returns four starters from a team that won 25 games in 2009-10 and finished second in the league. The Panthers entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed and advanced to the second round before falling to Xavier by three points.

After losing almost all of its scoring and rebounding prior to last season, Pitt enters the 2010-11 season with 86% of its points scored and 87.8% of its rebounds returning.

The returning scoring includes junior guard Ashton Gibbs, who was named to the All-Big East preseason first team. 14 players were named to the Big East preseason first team, second team, and honorable mention, but Gibbs was Pitt's only representative on the all-conference teams.

Georgetown had two players named to the All-Big East teams, including preseason player of the year Austin Freeman. Marquette and Syracuse also had two representatives each.

Villanova was second in the preseason poll and Syracuse was No. 3. Georgetown and West Virginia round out the top five.

Pitt made the NCAA Tournament for the ninth consecutive year last season and also reached the 20-win plateau for the ninth consecutive time. The Panthers are also the only Big East team to win at least 10 conference games in each of the last nine seasons.

In addition to Gibbs, Pitt returns starters Brad Wanamaker, Nasir Robinson, and Gary McGhee, as well as top reserves Gilbert Brown, Dante Taylor, and Travon Woodall.

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