Last season: 30-10, 10-8

Coach: Rick Pitino

Top Players: Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan, Gorgui Dieng

Keep an eye on: Luke Hancock

The skinny: The Cardinals had their ups and downs, losing to Providence by 31 points in midseason, but came on strong to win the Big East tournament and make it to the Final Four. Siva, the league's preseason player of the year, leads an experienced, balanced cast. Hancock, a transfer from George Mason, adds still more experience.


Last season: 34-3, 17-1

Coach: Jim Boeheim

Top Players: James Southerland, Brandon Triche, Rakeem Christmas

Player to watch: C.J. Fair

The skinny: The Orange lost a lot — Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, et al — but as usual they have a ton of talent coming back, including eight upperclassmen in this era of the one-and-done. Their last season in the Big East figures to bring a lot of emotional games, including the game at UConn on Feb. 13. Among the nonconference opponents is Central Connecticut on New Year's Eve in the Dome.

Notre Dame:

Last season: 22-12, 13-5

Coach: Mike Brey

Top Players: Jack Cooley, Scott Martin, Jerian Grant

Keep an eye on: Pat Connaughton

The skinny: All seemed lost last year when Tim Abromaitis went down with a knee injury early in the season, but Brey held an inexperienced group together and they pulled off a series of upsets — until they were no longer considered upsets. Cooley, in particular, became a force. Now the Irish, as they begin to transition out of the Big East, have nearly everybody back.


Last season: 26-11, 12-6