The Huskies and Panthers won their respective divisions last season, though neither team was a preseason selection for first place.
Connecticut was tabbed for second and the coaches felt Pittsburgh would end up sixth. Both teams finished 13-3 in BIG EAST play and met in the title game of the ConAgra Foods BIG EAST Championship. UConn prevailed, 74-65 in double overtime.
This season, the Huskies received nine first-place votes in the East and a total of 85 points. Boston College finished second with 71 points just ahead of Villanova (67) and St. John's (66). Miami was fifth followed by Providence and Virginia Tech.
In the West, Pittsburgh garnered 12 first-place votes and 90 points. The Panthers were a comfortable selection ahead of second-place Georgetown, which had 72 points. Syracuse was third with 68 points, though the Orangemen received the other two first-place votes. Notre Dame was fourth with 59 points.
Rutgers was picked fifth with Seton Hall and West Virginia in sixth and seventh places, respectively.
The Mountaineers also did not place anyone on the preseason all-Conference team. Last year, WVU had the preseason rookie of the year in Jonathan Hargett.
2002-03 Preseason Player of the Year
Brandin Knight, Pittsburgh
2002-03 Preseason Rookie of the Year
Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
2002-03 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Brandin Knight, Pittsburgh, Sr., G, 6-0, 183
Troy Bell, Boston College, Sr., G, 6-1, 181
Emeka Okafor, Connecticut, So., F/C, 6-9, 240
Mike Sweetney, Georgetown, Jr., F, 6-8, 260
Darius Rice, Miami, Jr., F, 6-10, 215, Jackson, Miss. Marcus Hatten, St. John's, Sr., G, 6-1, 165, Baltimore, Md.
2002-03 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
James Jones, Miami, Sr., F, 6-8, 225
Chris Thomas, Notre Dame, So., G, 6-1, 175
Jerome Coleman, Rutgers, Sr., G, 6-2, 190
Andre Barrett, Seton Hall, Jr., G, 5-8, 161
Gary Buchanan, Villanova, Sr., G, 6-3, 196
Ricky Wright, Villanova, Sr., F, 6-7, 225