There are no Big East teams ranked in the preseason USA Today coaches poll released Thursday, and that should not come as much of a shock to fans across the conference.
This marks the third time in the past four seasons that the league opened the season with zero teams ranked. Two Big East teams ended last season in the top 25 -- West Virginia and Cincinnati. Back in 2009, the Bearcats went undefeated in the regular season and finished ranked No. 9. That year, three Big East teams ended in the top 25 in the coaches poll.
So yes, prognosticators have been wrong about the Big East before. But with West Virginia out of the picture -- now in the Big 12, the Mountaineers are ranked No. 11 in the preseason -- there seems to be no clear idea about whether any of the teams remaining in the Big East are top-25 caliber. Indeed, the teams this year seem to be pretty competitively balanced.
Louisville, the preseason media pick to win the Big East, picked up 46 votes to rank tops among all league schools. That would put the Cardinals at No. 27. Cincinnati was next with 32 votes, after going 10-3 a year ago and finishing No. 21 in the coaches poll. South Florida received 12 votes and Rutgers five. Incidentally, those are the top four teams in the Big East preseason media poll.
Of the 59 coaches with a vote, four are from the Big East -- Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, USF coach Skip Holtz and UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni.
If Big East fans want to look on the bright side, incoming member Boise State is ranked No. 22, while Houston and Central Florida also received votes. Those three schools are set to join for 2013.