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.
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
Coach: Mick Cronin
Top Players: Sean Kilpatrick, JaQuon Parker, Cashmere Wright
Keep an eye on: Cheikh Mbodj
The skinny: The Bearcats put things together after an early-season brawl with Xavier forced the suspension of several key players. They've lost some talent, such as Yancey Gates, but have a strong nucleus back, as the preseason respect from the coaches suggests. They could use more from Mbodj, in his senior year and second year out of juco.
Last season: 24-9, 12-6
Coach: John Thompson III
Top players: Nate Lubick, Otto Porter, Markel Starks
Keep an eye on: Jabril Trawick
The skinny: The Hoyas lost their three top scorers and do not have a senior. But, in Porter, they have one of the very best players in the league. They will need younger players (Trawick is a sophomore) to fill the void. Georgetown has a very tough nonconference schedule, starting with Florida in the opener.
Last season: 22-17, 5-13
Coach: Jamie Dixon
Top players: Tray Woodall, Lamar Patterson, Talib Zanna
Keep an eye on: Steven Adams
The skinny: The Panthers, also in their final Big East season, lost Ashton Gibbs, and come off a crazy season. They were picked to be a contender, but fell on hard times in January and ended up in the CBI Tournament, in which Patterson was the MVP. Players such as Dante Taylor, who helped turn things around late, are back and Adams, a 7-foot freshman from New Zealand, will command attention.
Last season: 27-8, 14-4
Coach: Buzz Williams
Top players: Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue, Jamil Wilson
Keep an eye on: Trent Lockett
The skinny: The Golden Eagles lost Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom from their strong 2011-12 squad, but bring back pretty good experience, especially in the backcourt, with starters Cadougan and Blue. Chris Otule, back from a knee injury, will help bolster the frontcourt. Lockett, a senior transfer from Arizona, could be an interesting addition.
Last season: 22-14, 12-6
Coach: Stan Heath
Top players: Anthony Collins, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Victor Rudd
Keep an eye on: Javontae Hawkins
The skinny: The Bulls broke through in the Big East, finishing high enough to warrant an NCAA bid, the school's first in 20 years. They've lost Augustus Gilchrist from that team, but have five seniors back and Hawkins, a top 100 recruit. USF will be especially strong in the backcourt.
Last season: 20-14, 8-10
Coach: Kevin Ollie
Top Players: Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, Tyler Olander
Keep an eye on: Omar Calhoun
The skinny: The Huskies lost a lot of talent because of NBA defections and transfers, and coach Jim Calhoun has retired. They are ineligible for the postseason but will be playing to help Ollie, signed through this season, get a long-term grip on his dream job. It will be an interesting season for UConn, which will look for more from Enosch Wolf, Niels Giffey and DeAndre Daniels to supplement a strong backcourt, a season with little to lose and much to gain.
Last season: 13-19, 6-12
Coach: Steve Lavin
Top Players: D'Angelo Harrison, Sir'Dominic Porter, God'sgift Achiuwa
Keep an eye on: Chris Obekpa
The skinny: The Red Storm had one of their youngest teams ever, and a tumultuous season, with coach Steve Lavin missing most of it as he recovered from prostate cancer. Moe Harkless, a fabulous freshman, went to the NBA. Lavin is back, and some stability should follow. Obekpa, a local kid, was heavily recruited and figures to have front-court impact. Harrison (17.0) was the top freshman scorer in the league last season.
Last season: 14-18, 6-12
Coach: Mike Rice
Top players: Dane Miller, Mike Poole, Eli Carter
Keep an eye on: Myles Mack
The skinny: Rutgers had some season, knocking off the likes of Florida, UConn, Pitt and Notre Dame, yet losing to DePaul and several mid-majors. Like several Big East teams, Rutgers has strong, experienced guards, and a real home-court advantage at the RAC. As a freshman, Carter averaged 14 points against Big East opponents.
Last season: 13-19, 5-13
Coach: Jay Wright
Top players: Mouphtaou Yarou, Maurice Sutton, James Bell
Keep an eye on: JayVaughn Pinkston
The skinny: Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns left after last season, and the Wildcats had some chemistry issues. For instance, they blew a huge lead and lost at home to a struggling UConn team late in the season. They now have a little more experience, and Pinkston, who came on at the end of his freshman season, should be an impact swing player, and Yarou a rugged rebounder.
Last season: 12-19, 3-15
Coach: Oliver Purnell
Top players: Cleveland Melvin, Brandon Young, Moses Morgan
Keep an eye on: Jamee Crockett
The skinny: The Demons have spent most of their Big East history at the bottom of the league; can they climb a few rungs this season? They return Melvin (17.5), the top returning scorer in the Big East, and nearly all of last season's nucleus. Stuart Pirri, a transfer grad student from Rice, and sophomore Montray Clemons, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, are newcomers who could make some difference.
Last season: 21-13, 8-10
Coach: Kevin Willard
Top players: Fuquan Edwin, Patrik Auda, Aaron Cosby
Keep an eye on: Freddie Wilson
The skinny: The Pirates won their first 14 games last year, beating West Virginia and UConn in back-to-back home games in early January to raise hopes and crack the polls. Then they sunk back and ended up missing the tournament. Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore, heart and soul of that team, are gone, and Willard must start over. Wilson, from Hillhouse, will have a chance for a bigger role.
Last season: 15-17, 4-14
Coach: Ed Cooley
Top players: Vincent Council, LaDontae Henton, Kadeem Batts
Keep an eye on: Kris Dunn
The skinny: Cooley, in his second year, seemed shocked that the Friars were picked last by the league coaches. Last season the Friars stunned Louisville by 31 points and nearly knocked UConn out of tournament contention late in the season. Council is a top-flight guard; Henton, Batts and Bryce Cotton are experienced players. Lots of attention will be focused on Dunn, the top recruit from New London, but he is recovering from shoulder surgery and won't return until midseason at the earliest.
Note: In order of preseason coaches pollCopyright © 2015, CT Now