The Big East word with The New Haven Register's Dave Borges

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We’re just a couple of bloggers, new bloggers at that, so our credibility is minimal. In order to get some real "stuff" on here, we’ve reached out to some esteemed beat writers who actually know what they’re talking about.

Covering UCONN basketball for the New Haven Register, Dave Borges enlightens us on what could be one of the most competitive conference seasons in memory. Dave gives us his take, and talks about the possibility for the league to receive an unprecedented nine tournament bids.

What are your general thoughts / forecast on the upcoming Big East season? I think it's going to be an extremely interesting, exciting Big East season. There are so many talented teams that whoever emerges as the regular-season champion (Pittsburgh? UConn? Louisville?) will likely do so with at least three or four losses in league play. I know there have been some early upsets (most recently, Syracuse getting upended by Cleveland State), but there have been upsets everywhere (hello, Tennessee, Duke, etc.). Top to bottom, the Big East is far and away the best.

I like Pittsburgh's toughness and defensive play, as usual, and Sam Young is a treat. I loved Louisville before the season started, but it seems they're missing David Padgett a lot more than anyone could have expected, even though Samardo Samuels is the real deal. Georgetown is better than I thought; the freshman, Greg Monroe, looks good. Syracuse has been very sharp until the other night. I'm not in love with Notre Dame. Harangody is great and the team can shoot with anyone, but I'm not sure they'll play enough defense to make a big dent come tourney time.

Really, without any bias, I think UConn is the best team. I didn't think that in October, but watching them play (I know it's been largely against weak teams), I really see something here. Hasheem Thabeet has really improved, Jerome Dyson has improved even more, and now they add Stanley Robinson's incredible athleticism to the mix. If they can just get A.J. Price going, this could be a Final Four team.
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Could we see the Big East receive an unprecedented nine tournament bids? I think so. The conference is getting enough respect with so many Top 25 teams (eight this week, I believe), that it's hardly unrealistic to think another team could get in. Probably a team like West Virginia, or even Seton Hall or Providence.

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What will we say about this season when it's all said and done? That it will be one of the most competitive Big East seasons ever.
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What teams do you see overachieving this season and what, if any, unheralded players could make a splash in league play? Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell and USF's Dominique Jones (who's also hurt right now) are good players. And I've always loved PC's Geoff McDermott, who can do a little of everything.

I think West Virginia could be better than expected. Even though they lost Joe Alexander, they still have a lot of talent with Da'Sean Butler, Alex Ruoff and Joe Mazzulla (the latter two who are hurt right now). I'm partial to Mazzulla because he's a fellow native Rhode Islander, but he had a great tournament last year and I like his game.

As I mentioned before, I think Georgetown is better than people originally thought. DaJuan Summers can play on my team any day of the week, the big freshman, Greg Monroe, looks good, and I love players like Jesse Sapp -- just solid, veteran players who do all the little things.
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What is your take on the extended 3-point line? I like it. It'll keep shooters honest, separating the OK ones from the good ones, and I think it'll open things up in the middle for the big guys to maneuver.

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Best rivalry going in the conference right now? Well, you've got the old ones like Georgetown-Syracuse, UConn-Syracuse, but a lot of it's diluted by the 16 teams, etc.

Here's a dark horse: UConn-PC. The Friars have beaten UConn on UConn's home floor the last four times they've played, and swept the season series last year. UConn was insulted by the way the Friars were mocking them in the first game and promised revenge in the second, but PC won at The Dunk.

Not saying it's the best rivalry in the conference, by any means, but these two teams do not like each other. At all.

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Through your travels on the beat, which campus is your favorite to visit? Why? Well, last year was my first year of really traveling (I didn't travel much when I was on the PC beat). Notre Dame's campus is beautiful and the gym is loud. That was a cool experience. Haven't been to all of them yet. Didn't really like Syracuse that much. Oh, and South Florida is nice and warm!
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During your career, what is the best team you have seen play live? The only time I saw the 2004 UConn team play, they lost to Providence in the infamous Ryan Gomes/"I (bleeped) up" game. Saw Syracuse's national-title team, too, while covering PC.

I guess I'd have to say the 2007-08 Memphis team. They dismantled UConn at Madison Square Garden in November, 2007. Should've been national champs.

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We love revering the former college basketball player who couldn't quite make it at the next level. Is there a player you absolutely loved watching at some point in your career, but now he's a complete afterthought to the common fan? When I was a kid, for some reason I loved Keith Lee of Memphis State (they were Memphis State at the time). No real reason, just thought he was cool and loved his game. Never did much in the pros.

Of course, growing up in Rhode Island, the 1987 PC Final Four team has a special place in my heart. Billy Donovan, obviously, is still a well-known name, but guys like Delray Brooks, Ernie "Pop" Lewis and Dave Kipfer will always live on in my heart.

Oh, one more. I attended URI, and their star player while I was there (1988-92) was Kenny Green. He's a Waterbury, Conn. native, and he was just an absolute animal. Never even made "The League," I don't believe.

A few other more recent ones: John Linehan (PC), Darius Rice (Miami -- boy, was he smooth), Julius Page (Pitt -- an incredible athlete). I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch.

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