We won't face these guys until January (ok, late December), but here are a few things to watch from the other teams in the league.
Is Villanova a legitimate frontrunner? They should be favored in every nonconference game, but a slip-up in Puerto Rico (a three-game tournament with only one other NCAA tournament team, Dayton) could spell trouble. they lose Dante Cunningham, but Scottie Reynolds, Corey Stokes, and Corey Fisher are all back to lead a three-guard offense.
How will Marquette handle the loss of three stars? Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal are all gone, making the Golden Eagles one of the few programs to lose more production through graduation than Notre Dame. The Big East coaches rank Marquette twelfth, but it is hard to see them falling that far. We will really see how good a coach Buzz Williams is in his second campaign as the head man.
How many Big East teams will make the tournament this year? Five are ranked in the AP poll, compared with seven a year ago in the preseason. Seven Big East teams ended up making the NCAA tournament as well last season. If the Irish play to their preseason ranking, they will be right on the bubble come Selection Sunday. Finishing at least in the top six of the conference should be expected for a comfortable automatic bid.
I am travelling down to San Antonio for the football game tomorrow and may not be able to post during the trip, but will definitely get out a full season preview by the end of the weekend. Have a good Friday, everyone.