It's a new year, and the first Big East conference games of the season are in the books. You know what that means... It’s time for the first Nova News Big East Power Poll (NNBEPP) of the season. (A Temple recap is posted under Villanova, and a Rutgers recap is posted under Princeton-- or under Rutgers. Yeah, that would probably make more sense.)
1. Syracuse - 15-0 (2-0) - The Orange once again look like the team to beat, even though Fab Melo is not a fab freshman, like Melo.
2. Pittsburgh - 13-1 (1-0) - I think Bruce Pearl is just trying to make the Big East look bad. First Tennessee beats Villanova, then they beat Pitt, and then they lose three in a row to Oakland, Charlotte, and USC, and now they lose at home to Charleston?
3. Villanova - 12-1 (1-0) - Villanova reclaimed the Big 5 title by beating the Temple Owls 78-74, despite Juan Fernandez’s 20 points and 5 assists. I don’t know what he has against Nova, but he always saves his best game of the season for the Wildcats. Corey Stokes led Nova with 24 points, sinking five threes for the fourth time this season to boost his 3-point shooting to 43.2%. However, Stokes missed his second free throw of the season to drop his accuracy to 94.6%. Maalik Wayns scored a season-high 21 points, and he also dished out 8 assists. Corey Fisher, limited by foul trouble, was held to just 5 points. Mouph Yarou used some skillful post moves to score 14 points. Antonio Pena had a near double-double with 8 points and 9 rebounds.
4. UConn - 11-1 (1-1) - Sure, Kemba Walker can score 42 points and get triple-doubles, but can he roundhouse-kick people in the face like Walker, Texas Ranger? I didn’t think so.
5. Notre Dame - 12-2 (1-1) - The Fighting Irish are right on schedule for their usual dominant November/December before their traditional mid-season collapse.
6. Georgetown - 12-2 (1-1) - Austin Freeman (19.1 ppg) is a nice candidate for the BEPOYBKW award. (Big East Player of the Year Besides Kemba Walker)
7. Louisville - 11-2 (0-0) - Louisville recently lost the
8. Cincinnati - 14-0 (2-0) - There is some definite Ewing Theory potential with The Bearcats and Lance Stephenson. They’re undefeated, yet they still aren’t one of the seven Big East teams in the top 25.
9. Marquette - 10-4 (1-0) - No wonder Chris Otule’s career free throw percentage is under 50%; he only has one eye. He should ditch the goggles though, and wear an eye patch like Jeff Bridges in True Grit. Then he should transfer to Seton Hall so he can serve as both a player and the mascot.
10. Providence - 11-4 (0-2) - Marshon Brooks (23.4 ppg) is another candidate for the BEPOYBKW.
11. St. John’s - 9-3 (2-0) - The Red Storm won the Great Alaska Shootout and are undefeated in the Big East. Did Coach Lavin do it? Is St. John’s basketball finally back? Never mind, they only had to beat an Eskimo and a pack of Malamutes to win the Alaskan Shootout.
12. West Virginia - 8-4 (0-2) - After reaching the Final Four last season, the Mountaineers are unranked and lost at home to St. John’s. They’re one Bob Huggins’ texting mishap away from becoming the college basketball version of the 2010 Minnesota Vikings.
13. Seton Hall - 7-7 (1-1) - It’s a tragedy that Jeremy Hazell was shot after defending himself against four muggers on Christmas night, although I can’t say I’m not surprised. Hazell has never been afraid to take a shot; he led the nation in 3-point shots attempted last season with 290.
14. Rutgers - 9-4 (0-1) - After trailing by four points at halftime, Villanova came roaring back to win their Big East opener versus Rutgers. Corey Fisher got back to doing what he does best; fishing (19 points) and dishing (6 assists). Maalik Wayns came just about as close as you can get to a triple-double without getting a single double (9 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists). Yarou and Pena combined for 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks. And Corey Stokes… I always knew he had the potential to do this, but even I am surprised at how quickly he’s put it all together. Stokes led the team with 23 points, as he continued to shoot the lights out (4-7 3PT, 9-10 FT). Stokes has certainly added his name to the ballot for BEPOYBKW.
15. South Florida - 6-9 (0-2) and 16. DePaul - 6-8 (0-2) - These teams play each other twice this season, so one of them will have to win at least one Big East game this season. Although, if there is a way for two teams to lose one game, USF and DePaul will find a way to do it.