- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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From now until media days begin, you can expect a weekly poll asking for your input on various preseason questions in the Big East headed into the 2012 season.
Today I ask you to vote for the team you think will be the biggest surprise in 2012. Remember, I only have five spaces for possible answers. I like to leave one for other, so that means I have selected my top four candidates for potential surprise teams. Here they are:
UConn. The Huskies were my "sleeper" pick a few months ago. I think they have the potential to have one of the top defenses in the league, with the top returning sack man back in Trevardo Williams, along with unheralded linebacker Sio Moore and lockdown cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. If the starting quarterback can provide any measure of consistency in teaming with Lyle McCombs in the backfield, UConn will have a great chance of surprising people.
Pitt. There are so many "ifs" surrounding the Panthers. But the possibility is there for those ifs to turn into positives and have them atop the Big East. Paul Chryst is bringing an offensive scheme that worked really well at Wisconsin. He has running backs capable of playing smash-mouth, and an offensive line that should be better. Questions remain, though, about Ray Graham, Tino Sunseri, and the offensive and defensive lines.
Syracuse. The Orange have some veteran players returning in Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh, Alec Lemon, Marcus Sales, Marquis Spruill and Shamarko Thomas, and that should give them a leg up this season. Questions remain along the offensive and defensive lines, and at running back. If Ashton Broyld can provide a spark with his big-play potential and the defense solidifies itself up front and in the back end, Syracuse could turn some heads.
Temple. The Owls are a huge unknown as they enter Big East play because they are in Year 1 making this transition. There is some talent on this team, from quarterback Chris Coyer to running back Matt Brown to defensive tackle Levi Brown to safety Justin Gildea. If Temple can stay healthy, particularly up front, the Owls could very well be the biggest surprise of all.