Next up in the college basketball conference crystal ball series is one that is a study in contrasts. Big East football is crumbling all around Commissioner John Marinatto, who is so desparate to save it that he invites Boise State. On the other hand Big East basketball is arguably the best basketball conference in the nation boasting numerous ranked teams. The odds are great that there will be a Big East school in the Final Four.

1 ) Connecticut
They lose Kemba Walker but still have Jeremy Lamb and others, plus a big recruiting class, to help them defend their national title.

2 ) Pittsburgh
The conference leading scorer last season in Ashton Gibbs is back and Pitt has frosh Khem Birch and others to lead the way.

3 ) Syracuse
The Orange have talent as always, led by senior Kris Joseph, but must overcome previous regular season roadblocks.

4 ) Villanova
‘Nova is a strong sleeper team and guard Maalik Wayns is the key. He had nearly 15 PPG in a supporting role last season.

5 ) Louisville
Peyton Siva leads a talented Cardinals team. Then again Rick Pitino can make any team successful.

6 ) Marquette
Coach Buzz Williams will have the Golden Eagles playing a relentless style that wears down opponents.

7 ) Georgetown
This season is widely viewed as a rebuilding one for the Hoyas. There is talent on the roster, so they could surprise.

8 ) Cincinnati
An all-around solid group that will be better is Yancy Gates steps up in a major way.

9 ) St John’s
Steve Lavin will find a way to keep this young team competitive and could pull off an upset or two.

10 ) West Virginia
This could be a tough year for the Mountaineers, but they have a good trio in Truck Bryant, Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli.

11 ) Notre Dame
Attempting to move on past The Luke Harongody Era, the Irish still have enough talent to contend for the postseason.

12 ) Providence
With the hiring of hometown guy Ed Cooley as coach, even a finish this low will be viewed favorably.

13 ) Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights’ tough and scrappy style of play will keep them in games, but they must score more to get those wins.

14 ) Seton Hall
Their head coach has said “Not that I’m giving up on this year…” which is never a good sign.

15 ) DePaul
Oliver Purnell has them headed in the right direction, but it will be some time before they climb out of the cellar.

16 ) South Florida
Hey at least their football team is somewhat successful.