Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
The question came down from Bristol today: Where should the Big East rank among the conferences?
That's a matter that obviously stirs some debate. We all know the Big East isn't on par with the SEC or Big 12 this season. It doesn't have the power at the top like the Pac-10 or the overall depth of the Big Ten and ACC, at least in 2009.
So what this really comes down to is whether the Big East is No. 6 or if it ranks behind the Mountain West and/or WAC.
I say the Big East is No. 6.
Yes, the Mountain West has a lot of momentum, and Utah, TCU and BYU all are ranked in the USA Today coaches' preseason Top 25, while the Big East didn't get one team in the poll. The top of the Mountain West may be better than anything the Big East has in 2009.
But it's a steep drop down that, er, mountain. I would argue that the Big East has five teams that are among the best 40 in the country (and in the coaches' poll, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia are ranked between 28 and 41) and that a sixth school, UConn, would finish no worse than fourth in the Mountain West. And I think Louisville and Syracuse would win a few games in the Mountain West. I mean, who else scares you out there? San Diego State? New Mexico? Wyoming?
Depth matters. And the Big East has more of it than all but five other leagues.
My ranking of the leagues looks like this:
2. Big 12
4. Big Ten
6. Big East
7. Mountain West