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October 24, 2007

BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll

NEW YORK -- Georgetown and Louisville are the co-favorites to win the regular-season title in the 2007-08 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll. The two teams tied for first place in the balloting with 217 points.

Both teams received eight first-place votes. The coaches did not place their own teams on their respective ballots.

Georgetown's 2007-08 season ended at the NCAA Final Four with a 30-7 record. Along the way, the Hoyas were 13-3 in the BIG EAST and won the BIG EAST Championship Presented by Aeropostale. Coach John Thompson III will have to find a way to replace Jeff Green, the BIG EAST Player of the Year, but will be able to lean on four returning starters. Senior center Roy Hibbert is the '07-08 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and senior guard Jonathan Wallace made the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

Louisville finished 24-10 last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship. The Cardinals, coached by Rick Pitino, return their top seven scorers, including four starters. Junior forward Terrence Williams led the squad in scoring with a 12.4 average. Williams and senior center David Padgett were named to the 2007-08 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

Marquette was a solid third-place choice. The Golden Eagles have earned NCAA berths in their first two seasons in the BIG EAST. This year, coach Tom Crean welcomes back his top seven players from last season. Junior guards Dominique James and Jerel McNeal were selected to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

Pittsburgh was tabbed for fourth place. The Panthers are the only league team to play in the last six NCAA tourneys and win more than 10 BIG EAST games in each of those seasons. Coach Jamie Dixon must replace three starters, including All-BIG EAST First Team center Aaron Gray. Senior forward Mike Cook is the team's top returning scorer at 10.5.

The BIG EAST coaches slotted Syracuse for fifth. Coach Jim Boeheim has to replace his starting frontline, but SU's history still suggests success. Under Boeheim, the Orange have won at least 20 games in 29 of his 31 seasons. Junior guard Eric Devendorf is on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

The voting results for the next three places were very close. Connecticut was picked sixth with 149 points followed by Villanova for seventh (143 points) and Providence eighth (141 points). UConn is still a young club, but has its top 11 players returning from last season. Junior forward Jeff Adrien made the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

Villanova figures to be led by sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds, who was the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year last season. Providence has an experienced squad with a strong junior class. Junior forward Geoff McDermott, one of the league's most versatile players, was picked for the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.

The coaches selected Notre Dame ninth. Last season, the Irish returned to the NCAAs after three straight trips to the NIT. Coach Mike Brey is excited about three returnees who averaged in double figures last season, but he has two replace the team's top two scorers, forward Russell Carter and guard Colin Falls.

West Virginia was chosen for 10th place. The Mountaineers won the NIT crown last season. New coach Bob Huggins inherits a team that loses only one starter and has compiled a 73-31 record over the last three seasons.

DePaul, which reached the NIT quarterfinals last year, was picked 11th. The Blue Demons and coach Jerry Wainwright will have to deal with the loss of two NBA draft picks, forward Wilson Chandler and guard Sammy Mejia.

The league coaches tabbed Cincinnati for 12th place. Second-year coach Mick Cronin welcomes back the team's top three scorers from last year to go along with a large recruiting class.

Seton Hall was picked 13th followed by St. John's, Rutgers and USF.

2007-08 Preseason Coaches' Poll

1. Georgetown (8) 217

2. Louisville (8) 217

3. Marquette 191

4. Pittsburgh 170

5. Syracuse 153

6. Connecticut 149

7. Villanova 143

8. Providence 141

9. Notre Dame 122

10. West Virginia 112

11. DePaul 79

12. Cincinnati 62

13. Seton Hall 56

14. St. John's 52

15. Rutgers 32

16. USF 23


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