(AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

NEW YORK (AP) – Pittsburgh is the Big East coaches’ choice in their preseason poll.

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The Panthers, the only team in the conference to win at least 10 Big East games in each of the last nine seasons, returns four starters from a team that finished 25-9 last season and was second in the league with a 13-5 mark.

They received 12 first-place votes in the balloting announced Wednesday.

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Georgetown senior guard Austin Freeman, who averaged 16.5 points last season and shot 52.5 percent from the field, is the choice as preseason player of the year.

Syracuse freshman Fab Melo, a 7-foot native of Brazil, is the preseason rookie of the year.

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Villanova was the second choice in the 16-team conference, followed by Syracuse, Georgetown, West Virginia, St. John’s and Notre Dame.