Pitt, as expected, was named the preseason favorite at Big East Media Day today. What might be a little surprising was the number of votes the team got.
Pitt received 12 of 16 votes as the conference's top team. Syracuse garnered two, Villanova had one, and St. John's (yes, that St. John's) somehow walked away with one. With teams like Syracuse, Nova, and Georgetown, I would have expected more of a split.
Head coach Jamie Dixon, of course, believed his team would be more highly regarded than last year's team:
"I talked to our guys about it in the spring, actually, at the team banquet," Dixon said. "I said that last year, we were picked ninth, and with the same returning players, [we] were going to be picked higher in the conference. Nothing has changed. We've got the same guys, so our commitment and our work ethic can't change, either."
Dixon also had some thoughts about the conference's bearing on the National Championship:
"I think the depth of our conference makes it harder to win a national championship. I've said that over and over. Our seeds are not going to be as high. We have more teams in the tournament, so we're moving around more teams and we're playing in different sites."
You know, I've heard this argument before. Sorry, but I just ain't buyin' it. Since 1999, the conference has three national champions (UCONN twice and Syracuse once) - second most out of any conference behind only the ACC. The conference has also been to countless Final Fours in that time and once you get to the Final Four, it's anybody's game. I kind of see where Dixon is coming from, but think he's off-base.
Georgetown's Austin Freeman was chosen as the league's top player and Fab Melo as the top freshman.
Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs was also a first-team selection. Gibbs was Pitt's only representation on the team's all-conference teams.