Monday, November 05, 2007

Preseason Picks I

American East
Champ- 1. Boston University
Contenders- 2. Albany, 3. Hartford
The Rest- 4. UMBC, 5. Vermont, 6. Binghamton, 7. Stony Brook, 8. UNH, 9. Maine

BU returns 3 starters and their top 3 scorers and all of their relevant bench guys. Their 4 best players are all turning sophomores so a growth spurt is expected. An early season test at Pitt will determine how feared this team should be. Albany, last year’s champ, also returns 3 starters but losing their Jamar Wilson and Jason Siggers will mean a second place finish.

Atlantic Sun
Champ- Mercer
Contenders- East Tennessee St., Jacksonville
The Rest- Kennesaw St., Campbell, Belmont, Stetson, Lipscomb, Gardner-Webb, Fl. Gulf Coast, North Florida, SC-Upstate

This season will come down to Mercer and East Tennessee St. ETSU probably has the most talent and returns PoY Courtney Pigram but they’ve had the most talent since they have joined the league and they haven’t won yet. Mercer returns 5 out of their top 6 scorers and 6 out of 7 players who started 14 or more games. They have no problem scoring and a little defense should mean a conference championship. Jacksonville is a team on the rise returning 3 starters and bringing in another solid recruiting class and will surprise some teams.

Big Sky
Champ- Montana
Contenders- Weber St., Portland St.
The Rest- Montana St., Northern Arizona, Idaho St., Northern Colorado, Sacramento St., Eastern Washington

Montana returns 6 of its top 7 scorers including potential PoY Andrew Strait. Don’t be surprised to see them win a game or two against Gonzaga, Washington St. and Air Force in the first month of the season. Another team that could win the title is Weber St. who was last year’s NCAA representative for the Big Sky. They return 4 of their top 5 scorers (and 7 of 9) but the one they lose is last year’s leading scorer David Patten. Portland St. should also be dangerous as they return 4 players who started 22 or more games for them last year and 4 of their top 5 leading scorers.

Big South
Champ- High Point
Contenders- Winthrop, UNC Asheville, VMI, Coastal Carolina
The Rest- Charleston Southern, Liberty, Radford

High Point returns the most talent starting with reigning PoY Arizona ‘AZ’ Reed. They return 7 rotation players in all on a team that finished second last year behind that great Winthrop team. Winthrop returns its leading scorer, Michael Jenkins who averaged 14.8 ppg but they lose three starters. UNC Asheville could be a very good team. They return their top 3 scorers, 4 starters, most of their bench, and plenty of size. Who could forget VMI’s memorable run last year capped by their great-but-not-quite performance against Winthrop in the finals? They return Reggie Williams who average 28.1 ppg last year and the Holmes twins. However, this team was just 14-19 (5-9) last year and is extremely streaky but if they get hot at the right time then who knows? Coastal Carolina could be a sleeper since they return four starters but they one they lost was their leading rebounder and they couldn’t rebound last seasons so what will they do this season?


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