College Basketball Picks: Picking All-Big East First, Second and Third Teams

Ron Pasceri@@RonPasceriCorrespondent IIFebruary 29, 2012

College Basketball Picks: Picking All-Big East First, Second and Third Teams

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    With Selection Sunday looming less than two weeks away, enough season has elapsed to separate the good teams from the bad. Also, everyone has seen enough to determine who the best, most impacting players across the college game are.

    Here, we will look at the selections of the All-Big East teams. Please note that this is not just a ranking list or a rundown of the conference's scoring leaders. These are the players noted to be the best in the league based on their level of production and the impact they have on their team.

    Being among the league's leading scorers or rebounders helps, as does playing for a winning team. That said, some players from the bottom of the standings crept into consideration.

    As always, all feedback is welcome.  It is always interesting to know what readers agree or disagree with. It is even more interesting to know how readers would change what they disagree with or even how they would pick their own teams.

    Hopefully I will be getting many suggestions. Here are the 2012 All-Big East teams.

First Team: Guard, Dion Waiters, Syracuse

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    Some people may be surprised to see a sixth man on the first team, but Dion Waiters is deserving.

    He could probably start for any other Big East team and he is leading a second-unit that would probably be as good as a lot of other teams in the conference.

    In his limited minutes, Waiters makes an enormous impact on the game. He plays 23.5 minutes per game and scores 11.9 points, dishes 2.6 assists and swipes 1.9 steals per game.

    His shooting stroke has been shaky lately, which has dipped his production. He still shoots 53.6 percent on two-point field goals and his recent slump does not take away from the impact he's had in the Big East.

    Waiters has the ability to both start and finish the vaunted Syracuse transition game and he can carry the scoring load on any night. He's also a tough Philly guard that knows what Big East basketball is all about.

First Team: Guard, Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette

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    Playing for second-place Marquette, Darius Johnson-Odom has to be in the conversation for Big East Player of the Year.

    Johnson-Odom is a big time player on both ends of the floor. He is second in the conference in scoring at 18.4 points per game. He can score from anywhere on the floor, evidenced by his 49.1 percent shooting on two-point shots and 40 percent on threes.

    He isn't just a scorer either. He is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who averages over a steal per game. He is a hard-nosed player who does what it takes for his team to win.

    When Johnson-Odom has it going, he is one of the most explosive scorers anywhere in college basketball. His scoring, defense and leadership should help the Golden Eagles play deep into March.

First Team: Forward, Jae Crowder, Marquette

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    I generally have a rule to never include multiple players from the same team on a list. Jae Crowder makes it impossible to abide by that rule. This is truly picking the best of the best in the Big East, and he belongs here.

    Crowder is one of those college players that doesn't project to have a set position in the NBA, which is an advantage in the college game. Crowder is one of the best inside-outside players in the nation.

    He can defend the post and the perimeter, averaging 2.4 steals and and a block per game. He also scores 17.4 points per game on 51.6 percent shooting. 

    In addition to his scoring and defense, Crowder can also bang inside, pulling down 7.3 rebounds per game.

    Crowder gives Marquette valuable versatility and his high-energy style makes him one of the Big East's best players. As good as Darius Johnson-Odom is, there is a legitimate debate as to who is the team's best player.

First Team: Forward, Kevin Jones, West Virginia

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    Kevin Jones has to be the favorite for Big East Player of the Year.  He is leading the conference in both scoring and rebounding, and has a tremendous all-around game for a big man.

    Jones is putting up 20.0 points and 11.0 boards per game with one block per game.

    Offensively, he is highly efficient, shooting over 60 percent on two-point field goals and over 77 percent from the foul line. He can even step out and hit an occasional three. He is third in the country in offensive rebounding, with 4.2 per game.

    Jones does it all for the Mountaineers and his leadership, intensity and production make him among the best in the conference.

First Team: Center, Fab Melo, Syracuse

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    Statistically, Fab Melo may not seem like he belongs on any first team All-Conference, but he does exactly what a good center should do.

    Melo anchors the defense of the best team in the Big East and he cleans the glass as well.

    He is averaging 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 24.6 minutes per game.

    The only Syracuse loss of the season came while he was suspended. Since his return, the Orange is 7-0 and Melo has picked up his offense, averaging 10.0 points per game in that stretch.

    Melo is one of the biggest, strongest and sturdiest big men in the nation and he will give opponents fits in the NCAA Tournament.

Second Team: Guard, Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati

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    Sean Kilpatrick doesn't light up the scoreboard every night, but he is a gutsy shooter and defender for one of the toughest teams in the conference.

    He leads the Bearcats in scoring at 14.8 points per game and he adds 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals as well.

    Kilpatrick is also hitting 37.8 percent of his threes and leads the Big East in three-pointers made, with 74.

    A New York guard who honed his game at Rucker Park, he showed his heart and toughness with a game-winning three in a 70-67 win over then-11th ranked Connecticut.  He also torched Georgetown for 27 points and four steals in a huge 68-64 win at the Verizon Center.

    Kilpatrick has the team at 10-6 in conference play and looking to get an invite to the Big Dance.

Second Team: Guard, Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

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    Despite a miserable season in Storrs, Jeremy Lamb is arguably the most talented player in the Big East.

    Lamb is a true go-to scorer who rebounds and can be incredibly disruptive on the defensive end.

    He is an incredible athlete who can score from anywhere on the court. He has topped 20 points eight times this season, highlighted by a dominating 32-point performance in an overtime win at Villanova.

    Aside from his offensive ability, Lamb has freakish length which allows him to get into passing lanes and alter shots from the perimeter.

    This season has really gotten away from the Huskies, but Lamb has still lit up the conference for 17.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. 

    The only way UConn experiences March Madness is by winning the Big East Tournament.  Jeremy Lamb is capable of carrying them on that type of run. 

Second Team: Forward, Jack Cooley, Notre Dame

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    Jack Cooley is not the most exciting or dynamic player in the Big East, but he is one of the most important.

    Cooley doesn't pop out on the screen as much as he does in the box score. He is averaging 12.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 61.8 percent from the field.

    The numbers themselves may not jump out at you, but he is fifth in the Big East in rebounding and sixth in blocks. He is leading the conference in field goal percentage and he is 10th in the nation in offensive rebounding.

    During a recent nine-game winning streak, Cooley averaged 15.8 points and 11.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He is the best player on the team tied for third place in the conference.

Second Team: Forward, Herb Pope, Seton Hall

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    Herb Pope is severely hurt by playing in the same conference as Kevin Jones. Pope is the only other Big East player averaging a double-double for the season.

    While Pope's 15.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game look nice, it's his overall play that makes him a special player.

    Pope is a good inside scorer and is second in the Big East in rebounding, but he also plays incredibly tough defense. He uses his size, athleticism and boundless energy to block 1.6 shots and get 1.1 steals per game.

    He is one of the biggest and toughest low post competitors in the conference and he is a handful on both ends of the floor. As a senior, he is also a leader on a team that is knocking on the Selection Committee's door.

Second Team: Center, Gorgui Dieng, Louisville

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    Much like Fab Melo, Gorgui Dieng plays like a classic Big East center.

    Diend is an opportune scorer, sinking 9.8 points per game on 55.7 percent shooting. He also dominates the glass, pulling down 9.2 rebounds, fifth in the Big East.

    Where Dieng really shines is defensively. He uses his incredible combination of size, athleticism and instincts to swat a league-leading 3.4 shots per game to go with his 1.2 steals.

    Dieng doesn't have the same type of strength as Melo, but he is incredibly effective in all phases of the game.

    Come tourney time, Dieng's disruptive defense could pay big dividends for Rick Pitino's Cardinals.

Third Team: Guard, Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall

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    Jordan Theodore is the leader and senior floor general for the Pirates. He is a terrific scoring point guard, averaging 16.2 points and 6.8 assists per game. He creates havoc on defense as well, with 1.9 steals per game.

    Theodore isn't the most consistent shooter and he doesn't get a ton of press, but he is huge for Seton Hall.

    After falling to 4-7 in Big East play, Theodore spurred a three-game winning streak by scoring 18.3 points, dishing 7.3 assists and grabbing 2.0 steals per game.

    In a season-defining, possibly season-saving win over Georgetown, Theodore ripped the nets for 29 points on 8-of-11 shooting, hitting all five of his three-point attempts. 

    Theodore isn't among the most hyped guards, but he deserves a spot on the team.

Third Team: Guard, Jason Clark, Georgetown

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    Jason Clark can be easily overlooked because of his size and his place on a very balanced Georgetown team.

    This season's Hoyas are not led by a single dominant star, but a cohesive team concept and suffocating defense.

    Clark is the catalyst for a lot of that. At just 6'2" and 180 pounds, he leads the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game and he adds 4.2 rebounds. He is a terrific rebounder for a guard his size.

    Offensively, he hasn't been shooting the lights out from deep, but he has range from almost anywhere inside half court. He is also hitting a ridiculous 60.8 percent from inside the arc.

    On defense, Clark is a pest on the perimeter, contesting jumpers and averaging 1.7 steals per game.

    Georgetown will be a tough out in March, and when Clark is filling it up, they are almost unstoppable.

Third Team: Forward, Hollis Thompson, Georgetown

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    Hollis Thompson, like Jason Clark, isn't a superstar or a headline grabber.

    Thompson is invaluable to a defensive team like Georgetown for his incredible shooting. He is averaging a respectable 12.8 points per game, but that doesn't tell his story.

    What makes him such a key cog on the Hoya attack is his blistering 45.1 percent three-point shooting. Georgetown will almost always find themselves in low-scoring affairs and Thompson's shooting can swing the momentum of any game.

    Aside from his shooting prowess, Thompson also brings a high level of athleticism that he uses to score at the rim and pull down 5.5 rebounds per game. Thompson and Clark are a very dangerous duo.

Third Team: Forward, Moe Harkless, St. John's

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    Moe Harkless burst onto the Big East scene like no other freshman before him. His 32-point Big East debut broke a record held by elite company in Allen Iverson and Troy Murphy.

    Harkless didn't stop his assault after that. As a freshman, Harkless is already one of the most versatile players in the Big East. He is putting up 15.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks.

    For a guy who wasn't supposed to play with a lot of effort, he is getting a lot done in Jamaica, NY.

    Harkless is a dominating athlete who can score over anyone at the rim, rebound with anyone and disrupts everything on defense, inside and out.

    The highlight of his season had to be a 30-point, 13-rebound performance at Duke.  Harkless makes St. John's really scary in the Big East Tournament.

Third Team: Center, Andre Drummond, Connecticut

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    When starting to write this, I didn't want to put Andre Drummond on any of the three teams. When trying to find a better center for the third team, it proved impossible to keep him off.

    After looking things over, he was more deserving than originally thought. While not the dominating freshman force that Anthony Davis turned out to be, Drummond is doing his thing pretty well.

    He has pretty good rookie numbers at 10.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game and shooting 53.7 percent from the field.

    Drummond ranks in the top-seven in rebounding, blocks and field-goal percentage. At 6'11" and 275 pounds, he is a monster down low and one of the most intimidating players in college basketball.

Honorable Mention

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    Anyone who has read and commented on my articles is well aware that I love hearing from the readers.  I thoroughly enjoy hearing alternatives to what I've written.

    In the spirit of that, I have decided to always run one slide with a list of some players who didn't quite make the cut, but deserved a mention.

    Maalik Wayns, G Villanova 17.2 PPG 4.4 APG .902 FT%
    Darryl Bryant, G West Virginia 16.8 PPG 3.2 RPG 2.9 APG
    Fuquan Edwin, G/F Seton Hall 12.8 PPG 6.2 RPG 3.1 STL
    Kris Joseph, F Syracuse 14.2 PPG 5.0 RPG 1.4 STL
    Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, F South Florida 8.3 PPG 6.7 RPG .425 3PT%


    Even with the extra group, I am sure some of you still have at least some difference of opinion.  Nobody will ever agree completely on any list or rankings, so now it's your turn to have your voice heard. 

    I look forward to debating with you all.