by Doug Potter
The Big East has lived up to all the pre-season hype so far this year and look to continue their domination of the college basketball world. There’s only one problem: From here on out, they can only beat up on each other as Conference play is in full swing. With the exception of Louisville traveling to UCLA on February 7th, all Big East must get resume-improving wins against their own kind, but lucky for them, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so.
With the College Basketball season about half over, the Big East still has eight teams in the AP Top 25, which is a team down from last week (West Virginia dropped from the rankings). Here are my mid-season awards and recognitions for the Big East Conference:
MVP – Luke Harangody: The undersized (6’8”) and plump (251 lbs) forward for the 12-4 Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish has done pretty much everything and more for his squad. The Junior was fourth in the nation in scoring (24.8 PPG) before Jodie Meeks’ outburst last night and is grabbing every rebound for his team… Literally… He’s pulling in 12.7 RPG and nobody else on his team is averaging more than six. He’s a bigger, more physical version of Tyler Hansbrough: tough, mean, and gives 110% every play.
MIP- Dante Cunningham: The senior power forward came into this year averaging just 7.1 PPG but has drastically improved game. He leads Villanova in scoring with 17.4 PPG and 7.7 RPG thanks to his vast improvements he’s shown in his body control and he added 20 lbs of mass since last year. He is the main piece in Nova’s low post game in their guard-oriented lineup.
Best Team- Pittsburgh Panthers: One of only three undefeated teams left and on a roll. Levance Fields is finally healthy and has his team playing solid ball. Pitt has the experience and the athleticism to do some damage come March.
Most Disappointing Team- This is my choice by default. If you question this choice then please look at the Big East standings and find me a team who has been more disappointing. That’s not to say that the Irish have had a bad season, I would say average this far. But they can turn it around at any time as they are one of the most dangerous teams in this conference.
Sleeper Team- West Virginia: The Mountaineers (like many teams in the conference) can beat anyone on any given night. Bob Huggins can coach, and quoting our fellow writer, Greg Kincaid: “I don’t care how many DUI’s he gets, the guy can coach.” A 76-48 win on the road at previously undefeated Ohio State proves that. If the Mountaineers, who are very streaky, can get hot at the right times, they could make some noise.
Freshman of the Year- Greg Monroe: It’s hard to argue against Samardo Samuels, but I think Monroe means more to his team. They look to him a lot in the post and he uses his athleticism to be crafty around the rim and has tremendous ability finishing near the basket. His 6.3 RPG leads the team and is second in scoring (13.5 PPG)
Best Player Nobody’s Talking About- Deonta Vaughn: The Junior from Indianapolis, IN leads the Cincinnati Bearcats in scoring and assists with nearly 15 pts and 5 assists per game. He handles the ball most of the time and he’s their main source of offense. The Bearcats aren’t having a spectacular season (11-6) after starting 11-2, but Vaughn can will his team to a victory against any opponent.