College Basketball Power Rankings: Likely Starting Lineups in the Big East

Chris CarsonContributor ISeptember 22, 2011

College Basketball Power Rankings: Likely Starting Lineups in the Big East

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    With college basketball just around the corner, 'tis the season for previews and predictions.

    The Big East had a bit of a shaking recently with the announcement that Syracuse and Pittsburgh would  depart the very conference they helped develop into a powerhouse.

    But the move will not take place for at least another year and a half, meaning the upcoming season will have all the classic thrills that only the Big East can provide.

    Here is a look at the potential starting lineups of each team, in order from best to worst, as a way to hold you over until the college hoops feast kicks off again in November.

1. UConn Huskies

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    The Connecticut Huskies are the defending national and Big East champions, and don't be surprised if they win them both again this year.

    UConn returns four of their starting five from last year. Though they will feel the loss of Kemba Walker, the Huskies add Andre Drummond, the nation's top recruit, to round out the starting lineup.

    PG  Shabazz Napier

    SG  Jeremy Lamb

    SF  Roscoe Smith

    PF  Alex Oriakhi

    C  Andre Drummond 

2. Syracuse Orangemen

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    Like UConn, the Syracuse Orangemen will return most of their starting lineup, including leading scorer Kris Joseph.

    In place of big rebounder Rick Jackson, expect to see Fab Melo.

    Though the 7-foot Melo had a disappointing freshman season last year, don't count him out. Melo is a highly skilled big man who will play his way to a first-team All Big East selection this season.

    With this explosive and athletic lineup, the Orange are Final Four material.

    PG  Scoop Jardine

    SG  Brandon Triche

    SF  Kris Joseph

    PF  C.J. Fair

    C  Fab Melo

3. Marquette Golden Eagles

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    The Marquette Golden Eagles won 22 games last season, and guess what? They return all of their key players, including leading scorer Darius Johnson-Odom and leading rebounder Jae Crowder.

    Pay close attention to Crowder. Last year was his first season at a high major Division 1 program after winning the NJCAA Player of the Year Award, and he averaged about 12 points a game while grabbing just under seven rebounds a game.

    Crowder has the body of an NBA player. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing forwards with his mix of size, skill and silky shooting touch.

    Expect Crowder's numbers to improve as he slides into the star role for Marquette this year.

    PG  Darius Johnson-Odom

    SG  Vander Blue

    SF  Jae Crowder

    PF  Davante Gardner

    C  Chris Otule

4. Louisville Cardinals

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    The Louisville Cardinals met Cinderella last March in the form of Morehead State. This year Rick Pitino's team starts one of the best backcourts in the Big East with Peyton Siva and Kyle Kuric.

    Siva may be the best guard in the country at getting into the lane. Kuric is one of the best in the country at making three pointers.

    And to round out the lineup, Louisville adds McDonald's All American forward Chane Behanan, the most high-profile recruit in a solid class.

    PG  Peyton Siva

    SG  Kyle Kuric

    SF  Chane Behanan

    PF  Rakeem Buckles

    C  Gorgui Dieng

5. Cincinnati Bearcats

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    Coming off 26 wins last season, including 11 in Big East play, the Cincinnati Bearcats are one of the teams to watch going into this season.

    Yancy Gates, one of the Big East's most underrated players, returns for his senior season.

    His supporting cast will be solid, with the likes of Big East All-Rookie Team selection Sean Kilpatrick, and three of the Bearcats five starters from last season.

    PG  Cashmere Wright

    SG  Dion Dixon

    SF  Sean Kilpatrick

    PF  Yancy Gates

    C  Justin Jackson

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    If the Louisville Cardinals have the guards, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have the forwards.

    Scott Martin and Tim Abromaitis return from last year's team that finished second in the Big East regular season on their way to 27 total wins.

    The addition of freshman Pat Connaughton, who passed on a contract with the San Diego Padres in order to play hoops for the Irish, will fill the hole left by Ben Hansbrough, slightly.

    Connaughton has deep range and an eye-popping vertical leap. He, and recent transfer from Michigan State Garrick Sherman, should be a nice compliment to Abromaitis.

    PG  Eric Atkins

    SG  Pat Connaughton

    SF  Scott Martin

    PF  Tim Abromaitis

    C  Garrick Sherman

7. Pittsburgh Panthers

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    The Pittsburgh Panthers have lost most of their first-place Big East squad from last season, but they retain their best player, and one of the nation's best scorers, Ashton Gibbs.

    The only other Panther in the lineup who saw big minutes last year is forward Nasir Robinson.

    But the Panthers add McDonald's All American Khem Birch at power forward.

    Overall, Pitt will start an undersized five for the Big East. That includes 7-foot freshman center Malcolm Gilbert, who is a bit raw and may need more work before he can begin to play as big as he is.

    PG  Isaiah Epps

    SG  Ashton Gibbs

    SF  Nasir Robinson

    PF  Khem Birch

    C  Malcolm Gilbert

8. West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Kevin Jones will in fact be back for another season with the West Virginia Mountaineers.

    Along with Daryl Bryant, and a cast of talented freshman, Jones will lead an athletic Mountaineers team that will be able to give the best of the league a run for their money.

    PG--Daryl Bryant

    SG--Dalton Pepper

    SF--Tommie McCune

    PF--Kevin Jones

    C--Deniz Kilicli

9. Villanova Wildcats

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    With the two Coreys gone, Maalik Wayns will step into the role of big man on campus for the Villanova Wildcats the season.

    He is a strong, attacking guard who can fill up the scoreboard with his ability to shoot from three.

    With Wayns, freshman guard Tyrone Johnson and junior forward Dominic Cheek, Villanova will have one of the best scoring perimeters in the Big East.

    PG  Maalik Wayns

    SG  Tyrone Johnson

    SF  Dominic Cheek

    PF  Maurice Sutton

    C  Mouphtaou Yarou

10. St. John's Red Storm

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    The St. John's Red Storm are a bit of a wild card this year.

    They bring in one of the best recruiting classes in the country, and without a doubt the best St. John's has had since they got Felipe Lopez and Zendon Hamilton in 1995.

    The Red Storm will start five freshman this season. They are all top 100 recruits.

    Such a young team, no matter how talented it is, could struggle in the stacked Big East. Struggle or not, this team will be crazy athletic and crazy entertaining.

    PG  D'Angelo Harrison

    SG  Maurice Harkless

    SF  Sir'Dominic Pointer

    PF  Jakarr Sampson

    C  Norvel Pelle

11. South Florida Bulls

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    The South Florida Bulls finished second to last in the league last year, but they return almost all of their key players.

    The most important of the bunch is senior center Augustus Gilchrist. He is the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Joining him will be high-flying guard Jawanza Poland.

    The Bulls come off a high note from the end of last season, when they upset Villanova in the first round of the Big East tournament.

    PG  Anthony Collins

    SG  Jawanza Poland

    SF  Hugh Robertson

    PF  Ron Anderson Jr

    C  Augustus Gilchrist

12. Georgetown Hoyas

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    The Georgetown Hoyas were ousted early by UConn in last year's Big East tournament. A little over a week later they were upset again by VCU in the NCAA Tournament.

    This year, the Hoyas are without both Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. After the brawl in China, the Hoyas are already looking like a team ready to implode.

    Guard Jason Clark takes on responsibility as team leader. He should get some help from forwards Hollis Thompson and Nate Lubick.

    PG  Jason Clark

    SG  Jabril Trawick

    SF  Hollis Thompson

    PF  Nate Lubick

    C  Henry Sims

13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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    The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are a young team this year, without a single senior in their starting lineup.

    Forward Gilvydas Biruta was named to the All Big East Rookie Team at the end of last season. He will be joined by a cast of talented young freshman, including potential point guard Myles Mack, out of St. Anthony High School of New Jersey.

    This year will be a rebuilding one for Rutgers. But expect big things from them in the seasons to come.

    PG  Myles Mack

    SG  Mike Poole

    SF  Dane Miller

    PF  Gilvydas Biruta

    C  Austin Johnson

14. Providence Friars

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    The Providence Friars finished 4-14 in Big East play last season, and that was with Marshon Brooks, the nation's second-leading scorer and the Friars leading rebounder.

    Sophomore Gerard Coleman will move into Brooks's spot at the two. Coleman averaged just over 10 points per game last year. He will be joined in the back court by Vincent Council, probably the Friars best returning player.

    Freshman LaDontae Henton should get solid minutes at starting forward.

    PG  Vincent Council

    SG  Gerard Coleman

    SF  LaDontae Henton

    PF  Kadeem Batts

    C  Bilal Dixon

15. Seton Hall Pirates

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    The Seton Hall Pirates have power forward Herb Pop back for one more year. Could this be the season he breaks out as an elite post player in the Big East?

    Pope is a rebounding machine, and years ago he showed some of the more promising offensive ability of all the big men in his class. So far, such skill hasn't shown itself in his college career. But it's in there somewhere. Hopefully it makes an appearance in his senior campaign.

    Pope will be joined by fellow senior, guard Jordan Theodore. The two of them will have to lead the Pirates to whatever wins they can pick up in the league this season.

    PG  Jordan Theodore

    SG  Aaron Crosby

    SF  Fuquan Edwin

    PF  Herb Pope

    C  Kevin Johnson

17. DePaul Blue Demons

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    DePaul is a young team. They should look to have a better season this year on the back of Big East Rookie of the Year Cleveland Melvin.

    Melvin and fellow sophomore, guard Brandon Young, will be the leaders of the team.

    Unfortunately for DePaul, they return almost all of their players from a team that finished dead last in the league. Although they have one more year under their belt, and all the development that comes with it, so does the rest of the Big East.

    But who knows, in such a tough conference, they could surprise everyone.

    PG  Brandon Young

    SG  Charles McKinney

    SF  Tony Freeland

    PF  Cleveland Melvin

    C  Krys Faber