Jan. 4, 2011

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Connecticut is the favorite in Big East preseason poll


After setting a school record with 48 wins a season ago and hosting an NCAA Regional, Connecticut topped the Big East preseason poll in voting by the league’s head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own teams, as released by the conference office.


The Huskies earned nine of a possible 11 first-place votes and compiled 117 points to finish ahead of second-place St. John’s. The Red Storm notched two first-place votes and 107 points. Louisville received the other first-place vote and placed third with 105 points.


Connecticut finished second in the regular season in 2010, reached the Big East championship game and hosted the Norwich Regional. The Huskies, under head coach Jim Penders, return seven position starters and their top two pitchers.


St. John’s won its sixth Big East title a season ago and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the past four years.


Louisville won the 2010 Big East regular-season crown and was the No. 7 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals set a school record with 50 victories.


USF was picked to finish fourth in the Big East preseason poll, with Pittsburgh fifth and Rutgers sixth. Cincinnati and Notre Dame tied for seventh, followed by West Virginia, Villanova, Seton Hall and Georgetown.


The 2011 campaign begins on Friday, Feb. 18, as the majority of teams participate in the third annual Big East/Big Ten Challenge on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The first weekend of conference competition is March 25-27 with all 12 teams involved. The 2011 Big East Baseball Championship returns to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., from May 25-29. The title game will be televised on ESPNU.


Big East Preseason Poll


Team, Points (First Place) (2010 Big East, Overall Records)

1. Connecticut, 117 (9) (20-6, 48-16)

2. St. John's, 107 (2) (16-11, 43-20)

3. Louisville, 105 (1) (21-6, 50-14)

4. USF, 87 (16-11, 26-32)

5. Pittsburgh, 82 (18-8, 38-18)

6. Rutgers, 75 (15-12, 30-26)

7. Cincinnati, 56 (13-14, 29-29)

7. Notre Dame, 56 (10-17, 22-32)

9. West Virginia, 38 (10-17, 27-30)

10. Villanova, 31 (9-18, 29-23)

11. Seton Hall, 25 (8-19, 19-30-1)

12. Georgetown, 13 (5-22, 23-31)