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Is Rutgers best fit for Big Ten?

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Big Ten commissioned a report from an investment firm on whether it should go ahead with expansion. The answer was a resounding yes.

The paper says the firm analyzed five teams: Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rutgers.

It's clear that the league is still in the initial stages of this process, but it looks more and more like a go. And the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein says the consensus among most Big Ten folks is that Rutgers would be the best match for a 12th Big Ten team.

"Why Rutgers?" Greenstein writes: "It doesn't hurt that the New Brunswick, N.J., campus is less than 40 miles from midtown Manhattan. Or that the state of New Jersey alone would be the nation's fourth-largest television market -- after New York, Los Angeles and Chicago."

There's no doubt that the potential New York market is a hugely attractive selling point for the Scarlet Knights. And as Greenstein says, Rutgers would almost certainly jump at an invitation from the Big Ten, even if it meant paying the Big East a $5 million exit fee.

Losing Rutgers wouldn't necessarily be a death blow to the Big East. Syracuse and Pitt have more tradition and are part of the league's brand name in both football and especially basketball.

It's too early in the process to get overly worked up about this. But the courtship may be beginning.