Mountaineers Picked Ninth

West Virginia's men's basketball team was picked to finish ninth in the Big East at the conference's annual preseason media day on Wednesday.

The Mountaineers received 121 points in the annual poll of the league's 16 coaches, placing West Virginia well ahead of 10th-place Providence (99 points), but significantly behind ninth-place Syracuse (139 points).

Bob Huggins enters his second season at West Virginia with three returning starters, but must find a way to replace 2008 first-team all-conference forward Joe Alexander, who left school early to be drafted eighth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in June's NBA Draft.

While the fact that the Mountaineers return so many contributors from one year ago would seem to indicate a higher finish than the prediction of the coaches, the Big East is poised to be stronger than ever before in 2009.

Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame have all been ranked among the nation's top ten in several preseason publications, so it should come as no surprise that those four were picked to finish in that order by the league's coaches. UConn received nine of the possible 16 first-place votes. Louisville and Pitt received three each, while the Fighting Irish received a token first-place vote.

The Mountaineers were also shutout of the preseason award selections. Notre Dame's Luke Harangody was picked to repeat as the league's Player of the Year after winning the award as a sophomore. Georgetown's Greg Monroe and Louisville's Samardo Samuels were picked as co-Rookies of the Year.

West Virginia had no players selected to the preseason all-Big East team.

WVU will host Mountain State University on November 8 in its lone preseason exhibition. The regular season tips off one week later at the Coliseum against 2008 Southern Conference runner-up Elon.

Big East Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Connecticut (214 points, nine first-place votes)

2. Louisville (205 points, three first-place votes)

3. Pittsburgh (200 points, three first-place votes)

4. Notre Dame (195 points, one first-place vote)

5. Villanova (153 points)

6. Marquette (146 points)

7. Georgetown (141 points)

8. Syracuse (139 points)

9. West Virginia (121 points)

10. Providence (99 points)

11. Cincinnati (91 points)

12. Rutgers (53 points)

13. Seton Hall (50 points)

14. St. John's (44 points)

15. DePaul (43 points)

16. USF (26 points)

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