With the College Basketball season heating up, it is time to start looking at where each team stands as we get nearer to conference play.
A good place to start is the Big East conference, the only conference in history to send 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, which they did just last year. Whether they can get that number again remains up in the air, but let's look at where each team stands within the super-conference that is the Big East.
Rutgers looked to be a potential dark horse for a Tournament bid in the Big East which is why their 4-3 start to the season is such a disappointment.
Rutgers fell to Miami early then lost to Illinois State and Richmond in the Cancun Challenge. The Scarlet Knights have only one player (Gilvydas Biruta) averaging double figures and is shooting just 45% as a team to start the year.
The Bulls almost pulled off an upset victory over Old Dominion but fell in over time and then followed that up with a loss to lowly Penn State and VCU which has to leave Head Coach Stan Heath wondering about his team.
With an upcoming road game with Kansas, Heath will get a much clearer picture about if this team can win games in the Big East when they are over.
The Friars losses, (Iowa State and Northern Iowa) are nothing to be ashamed about, but Providence does not have any real quality wins on their schedule and the Friars will likely struggle big time when they get into the thick of the Big East schedule.
Simply put, losing Tim Abromaitis for the season may kill any chance Mike Breen's squad had at a NCAA Tournament appearance this season.
The Irish showed their struggles last night as they managed just 53 points in a loss to 18th ranked Gonzaga.
For most AQ schools wins over Arizona State and struggling Texas Tech may not mean that much, but for Depaul who has been in the Big East cellar for year's it could be the start of a turnaround.
The Blue Demons also played eventual Old Spice Tournament runner up Minnesota to one point as well and Cleveland Melvin is developing into one of the best scorers in the league.
This one might be a hard pill to swallow for Villanova fans that expect constant success under Jay Wright, but this is a very unlikely NCAA Tournament squad this season.
The Wildcats couldn't manage wins against Santa Clara or Saint Louis at the 76 classic and look to have at least two more likely losses against in non conference play as they will face Missouri and travel to Temple.
The Red Storm have looked just as young as they are so far this season.
They hung right in the game with their home fans behind them at the Garden against Arizona and Texas A&M but were unable to pick up a victory against either of them.
They then followed that performance up with a head scratching defeat to Northeastern, but that isn't to say that as this team continues to mature, and their Head Coach continues to get healthier, that they won't be a force to be reckoned with by the end of the season.
The Pirates got my attention with a convincing win over VCU early on in their season, and they would have really made a name for themselves if they were able to win the Charleston Classic.
However, Seton Hall had to settle for runners up as Northwestern beat them in the Championship game, handing them their only loss of the season so far.
The bottom half of the Big East looks surprisingly weak right now so who's to say the Pirates aren't a squad that could make their names heard come conference play?
Losing to Kent State is certainly not a devastating loss, but the Mountaineers are somewhat of an enigma in the Big East right now. While they have enough returning talent to make a tournament run, they look like the kind of team who could beat the top team but also lose to the worst in the conference on any given night depending on how hot they are playing.
While the two early season losses may come as a surprise to many, Mick Cronin's Bearcats still have the looks of the an NCAA Tournament team.
However, getting upset by Presbyterian and then losing to Marshall at home won't do wonders come March so it would be advisable for them to score an upset victory next weekend when they face off against tenth ranked Xavier.
Speaking of teams that impressed in Maui, The Georgetown Hoyas "won" the losers bracket in Maui picking up a 5th place finish at the event.This comes after the Hoyas played Kansas tough for all 40 minutes and then upset Memphis in the 5th place game.
Georgetown will get a chance to get a signature win as they travel to Alabama to take on the 12th ranked Crimson Tide this friday.
Pitt has bounced back nicely against three weaker squads after getting stunned by Long Beach State two weeks ago.
Ashton Gibbs is putting up predictably high numbers and could be a dark horse for Big East player of the year honors. The Panthers will get a test this Saturday against Cuonzo Martin's Tennessee team who impressed in losses to Duke and Memphis in Maui.
Curiously, the Golden Eagles have already faced off against Norfolk State twice this season, blowing them out by 30 and then a week later barely holding on to win by two against a game Spartans team to take the Paradise Jam Tournament Championship.
Marquette has played an extremely easy schedule thus far and doesn't do themselves many favors in the non- conference in terms of NCAA Tournament criteria, however they are one of only three remaining undefeated Big East teams.
After getting shocked in the second half against Central Florida in The Bahamas, UCONN saved face, barely in the consolation game against Florida State
This team looks very raw and is making a lot of mistakes for a team who returns several players who won a National Championship, but there is no denying this team's talent when they get it together.
Losing Mike Marra will certainly hurt the Sixth ranked Cardinals when they head into conference play but if any Big East team has the depth to make up for it it's Louisville.
While the Cards have a couple of descent mid-major victories over Butler and Long Beach State, Louisville will face it's toughest task in the non-conference as they travel to a hungry Vanderbilt on Friday.
The Number Three ranked team in the country is not showing any signs of slowing down despite the off the court Bernie Fine scandal that clouds above them.
After hard fought victories over Virginia Tech and Stanford to win the NIT Season Tip-off Tournament, Syracuse get's its biggest test of the season as they face off against Ninth-ranked Florida in the Carrier Dome this Friday.