Big East And Big 10 Pace Wooden Nominees

The Big East and the Big Ten have more quality teams than any other conferences this season. So it should only make sense that they also have more top-flight players than other conferences, right? According to Frank Burlison's John R. Wooden Award nomination list, that's the case.

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The Big East and the Big Ten are considered the strongest and deepest conferences in the country this season.


Obviously, based on the Mid-Season Top 30 candidates list I'm submitting to the John R. Wooden Award administrators, I share that perspective.


Those conferences split 12 of my 30 nominations, with Connecticut (Hilton Armstrong and Rudy Gay) and West Virginia (Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey) of the Big East and Michigan State (Maurice Ager and Paul Davis) of the Big Ten among the six teams that have two nominations apiece.


Others getting two of my selections are Duke (J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams), Texas (LaMarcus Aldridge and P.J. Tucker) and Memphis (Rodney Carney and Shawne Williams).


My entire Top 30 John R. Wooden Award nomination list:


GUARDS: Arron Afflalo (6-5, So., UCLA), Dee Brown (5-11, Sr., Illinois), Randy Foye (6-3, Sr., Villanova), Mike Gansey (6-5, Sr., West Virginia), Thomas Gardner (6-5, Jr., Missouri), Taurean Green (6-0, So., Florida), J.J. Redick (6-4, Sr., Duke), Rajon Rondo (6-1, So., Kentucky) and Brandon Roy (6-5, Sr., Washington).


FORWARDS: Hassan Adams (6-4, Sr., Arizona), Maurice Ager (6-5, Sr., Michigan State), Rodney Carney (6-7, Sr., Memphis), Rudy Gay (6-7, So., Connecticut), Adam Morrison (6-8, Jr., Gonzaga), Alando Tucker (6-5, Jr., Wisconsin) and Shawne Williams (6-9, Fr., Memphis).


POSTS: LaMarcus Aldridge (6-10, So., Texas), Hilton Armstrong (6-10, Sr., Connecticut), Paul Davis (6-10, Sr., Michigan State), Terence Dials (6-9, Sr., Ohio State), Nick Fazekas (6-11, Jr., Nevada), Eric Hicks (6-6, Sr., Cincinnati), Marco Killingsworth (6-8, Sr., Indiana), Paul Millsap (6-8, Jr., Louisiana Tech), Kevin Pittsnogle (6-11, Sr., West Virginia), Craig Smith (6-7, Sr., Boston College), Tyrus Thomas (6-9, Fr., LSU), Brian Thornton (6-8, Sr., Xavier),  P.J. Tucker (6-5, Jr., Texas) and Shelden Williams (6-8, Sr., Duke).


THE TEN FINAL CUTS: Corey Brewer (6-8, So., Florida), Ronnie Brewer (6-7, Jr., Arkansas), Jermareo Davidson (6-10, Jr., Alabama), Guillermo Diaz (6-2, Jr., Miami), Taj Gray (6-8, Sr., Oklahoma), Aaron Gray (6-11, Jr., Pittsburgh), Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, Fr., North Carolina), Cedric Simmons (6-9, So., North Carolina State), Steve Smith (6-7, Sr., LaSalle) and Eric Williams (6-8, Sr., Wake Forest).


TOP 30/BY CONFERENCE: Big East (6), Big 10 (6), ACC (3), Big 12 (3), Pac 10 (3), SEC (3), Conference USA (2), WAC (2), Atlantic 10 (1) and WCC (1).



*The West Virginia at UCLA game Saturday is easily the most high profile non-conference contest of the weekend, and one that could impact the teams' NCAA Tournament seedings – and those of other Big East and Pac 10 teams that get into the tourney, as well.


The Bruins, for the most part, have played exceptional man-to-man defense of late (especially during a 66-45 win over USC Wednesday night in Pauley Pavilion). And the Mountaineers are as dangerous, offensively, as any team in the country right now.


Individual matchup to check out: the Bruins' Arron Afflalo vs. Mike Gansey.


*Although Duke pulled away down the stretch and won by 13 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday night, the game just served to reinforce the belief that North Carolina State is the second strongest team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.


Herb Sendek's Wolfpack look fully capable of another run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. And you might be able to tack on another round to that projection if sophomore post Cedric Simmons (28 points, nine rebounds, seven blocked shots and three steals against the Blue Devils) continues his rapid rate of improvement.


*Forget about Florida's wins over Wake Forest and Syracuse (and that's easy to do, since those games were played more than two months ago, on Nov. 17-18, in Madison Square Garden during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic).


The unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Gators will face easily their toughest game of the season Saturday afternoon in Knoxville during their Southeastern Conference clash with Tennessee.


If Billy Donovan's team is able to escape Thompson-Boling Arena (where a standing room-only-gathering of 24,500-plus is expected), then the ``Can the Gators go through the regular season unbeaten?" debate can begin in earnest.


Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at Read more of Burlison's pieces at

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