Big East expansion worry-o-meter

So the Big Ten says it won't move on expansion until December. Still, we all know that timetables can change, and even if nothing happens over the next few months, fans and schools will be sweating out the potential ripple effects.

In that spirit, I present the first Big East expansion worry-o-meter. This is a list of which schools should be most nervous about the possible changing landscape. Programs are listed in order of least to most worried.

1. Rutgers: It's almost impossible to find a Big Ten expansion proposal that doesn't include Rutgers. The Scarlet Knight may not bring the best overall athletic program or a history of great football success. But they have the best geography, and the Big Ten seems infatuated with the possibility of gaining a foothold in the New York City market. And the Big Ten likes that Rutgers is a state flagship university.

2. Pittsburgh: Pitt doesn't bring a new market for the Big Ten. Yet that league appears to love the Panthers' academics and the strength of their overall sports program. Pitt figures to get invited in most scenarios that involve multiple teams.

3. Syracuse: If the Big Ten doesn't want Rutgers, it can always opt for Syracuse to try to invade New York. Or it could grab both to ensure that state's attention. Add in great academics and tradition, and Syracuse is a top candidate.

4. Connecticut: Unlike the first three schools on this list, UConn is not a member of the Association of American Universities, which may be a sticking point for the Big Ten. But word on the street is that Jim Delany really likes Connecticut. The Huskies have top-notch facilities, tremendous success in both men's and women's basketball and an improving football program. Their proximity to both New York City and Boston helps, too.

5. West Virginia: There's almost a zero percent chance that the Big Ten invites West Virginia. The Mountaineers are in a small state that doesn't bring much to the Big Ten Network, and they're not an AAU member. But the Mountaineers rank just below the leading contenders because whatever happens, they're going to be OK. The football and other sports programs are too good and have too much of a loyal, rabid fan base not to end up fine, even if that means getting gobbled up by the ACC or SEC.

6. Louisville: The Cardinals are in much the same boat as West Virginia. They're not going to the Big Ten -- it's just not a fit academically -- but they have the top revenue-generating basketball program in the country and a slew of other successful sports teams. They might face some initial problems if the Big East blows up, but eventually a BCS league would scoop them up.

7. South Florida: On the one hand, the Bulls have a huge and growing alumni base, are located in a major market and boast worlds of potential as a football program. On the other hand, their other sports programs haven't produced a lot to write home about, and the geography may work against them. Do Florida, Florida State and Miami really want another team in their state to join their league and compete for recruits/attention?

8. Cincinnati: Without a doubt, this is the team that needs to worry most about Big East destruction. The Bearcats just don't seem like a natural fit with the ACC or SEC. They've got a small stadium and a struggling overall athletic program saddled by debt. The one thing they have going for them is recent major success in football. That's something they need to keep going to stay relevant for what the future may hold.