Big East Basketball: Where Do the Moves of Pitt and Syracuse Leave Louisville?

Chaz Surette@@ChazSuretteCorrespondent INovember 8, 2011

DENVER, CO - MARCH 17:  Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals handles the ball against the Morehead State Eagles during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

With the impending departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East to the ACC following the 2011-12 season, big changes are coming to the Big East.

With the departures of two of the most perennially dominant teams in the conference, a power vacuum is bound to open up at the top of the conference, and just like with any power vacuum, someone has to fill it.

Who it will it be? Will it be UConn, rejuvenated after their latest National Championship? Or could it be Notre Dame, which will look to use last year's success on the back of Ben Hansbrough to raise their national profile?

Or, perhaps, it could be Louisville.

The Rick Pitino-coached squad has never truly been a consistent contender in the Big East, and they have long suffered at the hands of Pitt, Syracuse and UConn. However, they have had bright spots over the years, including a Big East regular season and tournament Championship in 2009, followed by an Elite Eight appearance in the Big Dance that same year.

The loss of Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC may open the door for Louisville to flex its muscles.

In addition to less on-court talent at the top of the conference, Louisville will get some breathing room off of the court as well. Although the Cardinals will still have to compete nationally with the same teams in terms of recruiting the best talent, they will have to fend off fewer elite teams in their conference for recruits.

Pitt and Syracuse are good recruiters, and with their moves out of the Big East, Louisville's only legitimate competition for talent within the conference will probably be UConn and maybe West Virginia.

Louisville has a great opportunity to move up in the world of college basketball. The Big East remains a very good conference, despite the loss of two elite teams. This opens the door for a very good team like Louisville to secure a spot at the top of the conference and raise its national profile.

As long as they don't find a way to screw it up.

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