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Posted: Tuesday November 02, 1999 09:25 PM

Big East overview

UConn thinking repeat; Orange, 'Canes looking up

By Ron Chimelis, Special to CNN/SI

Khalid El Amin Huskies point guard Khalid El-Amin has his sights set on a repeat. Aric Crabb/Allsport
Order of Finish
1. Connecticut
2. Syracuse
3. St. John's
4. Miami
5. Georgetown
6. Villanova
7. Rutgers
8. Seton Hall
9. Notre Dame
10. Providence
11. West Virginia
12. Boston College
13. Pittsburgh

Top storylines
A repeat national championship is possible for Connecticut if the Huskies can replace scoring star Richard Hamilton and defensive wizard Ricky Moore. At the other end of the league standings, just how far can Troy Murphy and new coach Matt Doherty carry Notre Dame? Speaking of rebuilding, The New York market would love to see Rutgers, an adopted son, emerge as a true Big East first-tier program, and it's not impossible that this could be the year

How they will spend Selection Sunday
Relaxing Sweating Fishing
St. John's
Seton Hall
Notre Dame
West Virginia
Boston College

Players to Watch
Top Three Frontcourt Players
Troy Murphy, Notre Dame
• Averaged 19.2 points and Big East-leading 9.9 rebounds as a freshman.
Etan Thomas, Syracuse
• Went from league's Most Improved Player to Defensive Player of Year.
Johnny Hemsley, Miami
• Scored 17.8 points last year while playing second fiddle to Tim James.
Top Three Backcourt Players
Khalid El-Amin, UConn
• Possibly the mentally toughest player in the league, if not nation.
Erick Barkley, St. John's
• Difficult to guard one-on-one; double him up and he'll find the open man.
Jason Hart, Syracuse
• One of the reasons 'Cuse allowed only 63.2 points a game last year.
Top Three Newcomers
Ajou Ajou Deng, Connecticut
• Six-foot-11 with perimeter offense; could help right away.
Anthony Glover, St. John's
• Targeted to replace Ron Artest but may be rusty after year off.
Matt Carroll, Notre Dame
• Two-time Pennsylvania player of year is an outside threat.

Hot Coach
Jim Calhoun, UConn
• Proved after 27 years of coaching that he can win the big one after all.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Craig Esherick, Georgetown; Al Skinner, Boston College
• Both programs were down before they got there; fans just want progress.

Toughest Schedule
Notre Dame
• Opens with Ohio State in NIT, which could mean one and done.
Quickest-Way-to-20-Wins Schedule
• Opens with Charleston Southern and Murray State; Elon and Albany later.

Mark Your Calendar
Jan. 16, St. John's at UConn
• Without Artest, are Johnnies good enough to still be second or third best?
Feb. 5, UConn at Michigan State
• Could become nation's best regular-season matchup this year.
Feb. 13, UCLA at Syracuse.
• Winner could burst out of the 10-20 rankings and into nation's elite.
Feb. 26, St. John's at Duke
• Rematch of one of last year's most thrilling games.
Mar. 4, Syracuse at UConn
• We'll find out which one may be more ready for March Madness.

Ron Chimelis covers college basketball for the Springfield (Mass.) Union-News. Look for his CNN/SI conference insiders during the season.

Related information
Player spotlight: Troy Murphy, Notre Dame
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