West Virginia was picked to finish seventh in the Big East Preseason Coaches' Poll that was released Wednesday afternoon, receiving 132 total points.
The Mountaineers are coming off a 21-12 season, the seventh straight 20-win season for the program, where they advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 32 but were defeated by Kentucky. Head Coach Bob Huggins' squad will experience a youth movement this season, with eight newcomers, along with the return of seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant, and junior Deniz Kilicli.
In the 2010-11 poll, the Mountaineers were selected fifth by the Coaches and finished the season sixth with a 11-7 record in conference play.
Jones also was selected to the Preseason All-Big East First Team, after serving as a key contributor as both a rebounder and a scorer during his first three-years in a Mountaineer uniform. Last season the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 13.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game, while he also is the active leader in points and rebounds in conference games.
Connecticut and Syracuse are the co-favorites to win the 2011-12 BIG EAST men's basketball regular-season crown in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Huskies, who won the 2011 NCAA national championship, received seven first-place votes and a total of 209 points. The Orange, who finished last season with a 27-8 record, collected five first-place votes. It is the third tie for first place in the history of the BIG EAST with the last coming in 2007-08. The league's head coaches do not place their own teams on their ballots.
The remainder of the poll goes as follows: Louisville (3) 201 points, Pittsburgh (1) 188 points, Cincinnati 169 points, Marquette 155 points, West Virginia 132 points, Villanova 127 points, Notre Dame 114 points, Georgetown 104 points, Rutgers 75 points, St. John's 71 points, Seton Hall 56 points, USF 43 points, Providence 40 points and Depaul 27 points.
The Preseason Big East Player of the Year is Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs, while the Rookie of the Year is Andre Drummond from Connecticut.
2011-12 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh (Player of the Year), G, Sr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, G/F, So., 6-5, 185, Norcross, Ga.
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, G, Sr., 6-2, 215, Raleigh, N.C.
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame, F, Gr., 6-8, 235, Unionville, Conn.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-7, 210, Montreal, Quebec
Kevin Jones, West Virginia, F, Sr., 6-8, 260, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
2011-12 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Yancy Gates, Cincinnati, F, Sr., 6-9, 260, Cincinnati, Ohio
Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut, F/C, Jr., 6-9, 240, Lowell, Mass.
Peyton Siva, Louisville, G, Jr., 5-11, 180, Seattle, Wash.
Scoop Jardine, Syracuse, G, Sr., 6-2 190, Philadelphia, Pa.
Maalik Wayns, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-2, 200, Philadelphia, Pa.
2011-12 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Andre Drummond, Connecticut, C, Fr., 6-11, 275, Middletown, Conn.
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, G, So. 6-0, 170, Roxbury, Mass.
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul, F, So., 6-8, 208, Baltimore, Md.
Jae Crowder, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-6, 235, Villa Rica, Ga.
Augustus Gilchrist, USF, F/C, Sr., 6-10, 245, Clinton, Md.