We are entering, likely, the final season of the Big East Conference as we've known it for a long time. So with schools coming and going the next couple of years, let's look at where the league's teams are right now as they enter a historic conference race and where they may end up in March -- or April.
I've used the Big East's preseason coaches' poll as my measuring stick:
1. Connecticut Huskies
What we thought: This is a team that returned four young starters and its Hall of Fame coach from a national championship team and added one of the nation's best recruiting classes. The prognosis for another opportunity to reach the Final Four is very, very good.
The story so far: Outside of a blip against UCF in the Bahamas, the Huskies are right on track going into Big East play and they haven't come close to their potential. Guards Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb and Ryan Boatright have had moments of alternating brilliance.
How the story will end: Freshman Andre Drummond has started to figure out the college game and it's only a matter of time before Alex Oriakhi breaks out of his early-season slump. Few are better at developing a young team than Jim Calhoun, so the Huskies should be right where they want to be in March. Like Syracuse and Louisville, they are very capable of getting to New Orleans.
2. Syracuse Orange
What we thought: The Orange came into the season as a consensus top-five team with, arguably, the deepest bench that Jim Boeheim has had in many years. While replacing the "human refrigerator," Rick Jackson, was not going to be easy, Syracuse returned four starters, a bench loaded with talent and another outstanding recruiting class.
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