Coaches pick Pitt to finish 1st in Big East

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NEW YORK -- Pitt was named the Big East men's basketball preseason favorite in a vote of the league's coaches. The Panthers received 12 of a possible 16 first-place votes. Villanova was picked to finish second and Syracuse third.

West Virginia was picked to finish fifth.

It is the fourth time since Pitt joined the Big East in 1982 that the Panthers were selected as the preseason favorite. Two of the previous three times they finished the regular season as conference champions.

Pitt junior Ashton Gibbs made the preseason all-conference team. He is joined by Kevin Jones of West Virginia, Corey Fisher of Villanova, Jeremy Hazell of Seton Hall, Kemba Walker of Connecticut and Austin Freeman of Georgetown. Freeman, a senior, was named preseason player of the year.

St. John's senior D.J. Kennedy, a graduate of Schenley High School, was named second-team all-conference.

The preseason rookie of the year is Fab Melo of Syracuse.

Ray Fittipaldo: or 412-263-1230.


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