NEW YORK - The University of Cincinnati men's basketball program, led by second-year head coach Mick Cronin, was voted to finish 12th in the BIG EASTConference Preseason Coaches' poll this morning at the annual media days at Madison Square Garden.
The Bearcats return their top three scorers from a year ago, including top scorer and 2006-07 BIG EAST All-Rookie team selection Deonta Vaughn. The team welcomes in eight new faces, including one of the nation's top 20 recruiting classes.
Georgetown and Louisville were voted the co-favorites to win the regular-season title.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, was 13-3 in the BIG EAST and won the BIG EAST Championship. Senior center Roy Hibbert is the 2007-08 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).
The coaches then selected Notre Dame ninth, West Virginia 10th, DePaul 11th before placing the Bearcats 12th. If the Bearcats finish 12th place or better, it would be UC's second trip to the BIG EAST Conference Championships at MadisonSquareGarden.
Seton Hall was picked 13th followed by St. John's, Rutgers and USF.
The Bearcats open the 2007-08 season on Wednesday, Oct. 31 with a home exhibition game versus Northern Kentucky at The regular season begins Nov. 9-11 as Cincinnati hosts the inaugural Peggy Cronin Classic vs. Belmont, Western Carolina, and Bowling Green. For season or individual game tickets, call the UC Athletics Ticket Office at 1-877-CATS-TIX or go online at www.CATSTIX.com.