Big East Basketball: Top-Heavy, Down Year Or Just A Lot Of Pretty Good Teams?

Just what Syracuse Orange fans needed. The same season they reign as the No. 1 team in the land with a questioned schedule, the Big East seems to be going through some kind of down cycle.

Saturday was a microcosm of the conference's state of flux.

Syracuse held off Marquette, who was coming off a loss to Georgetown. Meanwhile, No. 9 Georgetown lost to West Virginia, who lost to Seton Hall a week ago. Then, No. 8 UConn lost to Rutgers (!), the same team that lost to South Florida earlier in the week. Finally, St. John's beat Cincinnati, which is weird since Cincy just beat Notre Dame, who spent Saturday beating No. 11 Louisville on the road.

And that all doesn't even include a discussion about Pitt, who has dropped games to Notre Dame, Cincy and DePaul...DEPAUL, so far. And I'm sure there's a handful of weird Big East outcomes I've left out.

What all of this means to Syracuse is that just when we were starting to get away from the "Syracuse hasn't played anyone" nonsense, Big East play is giving those schmedricks the same ammo moving forward.

But is it really true? Is the Big East "down" or are we just looking at a conference that's more balanced than it's been in a long time?

While UConn, Georgetown and Louisville will tumble in the rankings, Seton Hall should pop in there. Marquette won't drop too far. Cincinnati could have gotten in there as well but will have to regroup. Meanwhile, West Virginia and Pittsburgh have time to get it together.

The Big East probably won't have many teams in the top ten but there's a good chance we'll see a lot of Big East schools in the 15-25 range all year long. And as importantly, the "second tier" Big East teams are better than advertised, reinforcing that there are no days off in the conference.

It's a reason why there are four Big East teams in the RPI top ten, six Big East teams in the RPI top twenty and seven Big East teams in the RPI top ten.

We're barely through January and we've got a long way to go so let's not draw too many conclusions. But from what we've seen, it's going to be a different kind of Big East season. As long as Syracuse keeps winning, it's all just noise anyway.

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