- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Question of the week in the Big East: Who's No. 3?
1. Pittsburgh (5-3, 3-0 Big East): No 5-3 team in the country is in better shape than the Panthers. They have a virtual two-game lead in the conference race with just four games to play. Pitt has to be the favorite to win the league's BCS bid.
2. Syracuse (6-2, 3-1): No qualifications or backhanded compliments any more. The Orange have earned this spot.
3. West Virginia (5-3, 1-2): Unlike the Orange, the Mountaineers have not earned this spot in conference play. With two straight losses, West Virginia should probably be lower. But when I compare them to all the rest of the contenders for this spot, I don't see anyone who's clearly better.
4. Rutgers (4-3, 1-1): The Scarlet Knights are one of only three teams with one league loss or fewer, they beat the Connecticut team that just won over West Virginia and their only league loss is at Pitt. But I don't feel very confident about it.
5. Louisville (4-4, 1-2): The Cardinals had a bad game, especially offensively, in their 20-3 loss at Pitt. Still, as long as Bilal Powell comes back, they're capable of beating everyone else on the schedule.
6. South Florida (4-3, 1-2): Was the offensive rejuvenation against Cincinnati for real or just a product of the Bearcats' defense? We'll find out Wednesday when the Bulls play Rutgers.
7. Connecticut (4-4, 1-2): The Huskies showed some mental toughness by bouncing back from two tough losses to vanquish West Virginia. They still have to prove they can win on the road, however.
8. Cincinnati (3-5, 1-2): The two-time defending champs in last place? Can this really be true? Well, the Bearcats have the worst record of any Big East team, have lost two straight at home and still have a challenging schedule left. Odds are they won't go bowling. This also illustrates that, while there's no dominant team in the Big East, there's also no clear-cut last-place team.