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November 11, 2008

Big East dominates early power rankings

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Head Coach

The Big East not only has the best teams of any conference. It also has the best individual players and the best coaches.

Rivals.com's preseason power rankings are dominated by the Big East, with the 16-team league producing 21 of the 100 selections among the players and five of the 20 coaches.

The 21 Big East players are six more than the next-highest total. The ACC came in second at 15. Only two other leagues had double-digit selections with the SEC at 12 and the Pac-10 at 10.

The power rankings, which are updated weekly, also show that the talent in the Big East is particularly widespread. Each of the five positions had at least three Big East selections. Five of the top 20 point guards are from Big East programs, including Connecticut's A.J. Price (No. 3), Pittsburgh's Levance Fields (No. 5), Syracuse's Jonny Flynn (No. 6), Marquette's Dominic James (No. 10) and Villanova's Scottie Reynolds (No. 11). The same goes for centers with UConn's Hasheem Thabeet (No. 1), Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair (No. 3), Syracuse's Arinze Onuaku (No. 10), Louisville's Samardo Samuels (No. 11) and DePaul's Mac Koshwal (No. 13).

The five Big East coaches in the rankings, also the highest number of any league, are Louisville's Rick Pitino (No. 5), UConn's Jim Calhoun (No. 6), Pitt's Jamie Dixon (No. 12), Georgetown's John Thompson III (No. 15) and West Virginia's Bob Huggins (No. 19). Dixon is the only one not to have reached the Final Four.

The ACC is strongest at power forward, where it produced five selections - the most of any league. That includes No. 1 overall player, North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, the first Associated Press national player of the year to return since Shaquille O'Neal at LSU in 1991-92. Other ACC players at the position include Wake Forest's James Johnson (No. 8), Clemson's Trevor Booker (No. 10), Duke's Kyle Singler (No. 13) and Virginia Tech's Jeff Allen (No. 15).

Four of the Pac-10's selections are at small forward, which ties the Big East for the most at that position. The quartet is composed of Arizona State's James Harden (No. 2), Arizona's Chase Budinger (No. 8), USC's DeMar DeRozan (No. 13) and UCLA's Josh Shipp (No. 18).

The West Coast had the most selections of any of the non-BCS leagues with nine, which was actually more than the Big 12 (eight). Eight of those players came from the three WCC teams (Gonzaga, Saint Mary's and San Diego) that reached the 2008 NCAA tournament.

The power rankings of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as most-recent results.

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Head Coach

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.



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