There's a not-so-highly sophisticated system to making our predictions around these parts, but it is still a proprietary system, so I can't be giving away all of our secrets.
The 2013-14 season was dominated by seniors, which trimmed down the likely candidates. On the upside, it made picking a preseason all-conference team of six players a little bit easier.
Preseason Player of the Year: Darrun Hilliard, G, Villanova
A general rule of thumb on picking these things is that if you don't have a jump off the page candidate, then go with the best guy on the best team. Unfortunately, that process gets complicated when the obvious best team is Villanova and they're returning Hilliard, JayVaughn Pinkston, and Ryan Arcidiacono. So here's my argument: Hilliard finished top 15 in points last season, as well as sixth in steals. He's also the best returning three point shooter in the conference in terms of percent made, and he's Nova's most obvious candidate to pick up the slack left by the departure of James Bell.
I'll listen to arguments for Pinkston, but I've just never been a fan of his, so that made it a little easier to tab Hilliard.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Darrun Hilliard, G, Villanova
D`Angelo Harrison, G, St. John's
D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera, G, Georgetown
Kellen Dunham, G, Butler
JayVaughn Pinkston, F, Villanova
Matt Stainbrook, C, Xavier
A six player team, as the Big East traditionally insists on naming a team with five players plus the preseason Player of the Year. That's Hilliard, of course, and from there, the other five guys are kind of obvious, I think. This list is five of the six returning players from last year's post-season all-Big East teams, with Arcidiacono getting left out. The player I'm most fascinated by on this list is Harrison. Show of hands: Who expected D`Angelo Harrison to still be in school at this point, for whatever reason you want to assign to that idea?
The guy not listed here that's most likely to end up on this list at the end of the season? Providence's LaDontae Henton. If I was picking a team based on which guys in the league scare me the most as a Marquette fan, I'd have to argue for Henton over Pinkston.
Top Five Teams
4. St. John's
Like I said up top, Villanova's the obvious top pick. Xavier loses Semaj Christon to the NBA Draft and Justin Martin to transfer, but there's still a very strong core left from last year's team. I'm probably overrating Georgetown for some reason, but if is healthy and eligible, then they'll be good. I dread putting St. John's this high, but the pieces are there. (How many times have we said that about Steve Lavin's Red Storm teams, though?) Even without Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts, I still like Providence to do well this season.