In the beginning of the offseason, we start with the groupthink of teams that are going to be in the top-25 of college basketball next year. After all, we know where the top recruits are going to school, we know most of the players who are choosing to leave for pro opportunities and we know which players are coming back.
We feed ourselves narratives about how excellence carries over if major players are back. We take in the excitement over players coming in who have real, bonafide NBA futures - the kind of player who could be training on NBA teams right now. And sometimes we discount the effect of bit players who kept the keel even, set the good screens, didn't complain, didn't need their shots or their egos stroked.
So much we don't know that we will know in a year's time.
But in the groupthink, one thing is apparent about the Big East - right now, the conference looks like Villanova and everyone they're going to beat up on.
Yahoo! has Villanova at 12.
ESPN lists Villanova at 11.
CBS Sports has the Wildcats at 11.
NBC Sports has Villanova at 18.
The quantitative and reliable Dan Hanner has Villanova at 11.
USA Today has the Wildcats at 8.
Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated has Villanova at 4.
These predictions are predictive conversation topics, and you know what's missing?
Any mention of another Big East team.
Hanner's expansive piece name checks Georgetown and Seton Hall's incoming recruiting classes but notes that " each team needs to improve in a number of areas to be a Top 25 team."
In the second year of the Big East, should fans be worried that there's only one top-25 team?
Providence certainly has some hope, though they lose do-everything guard Bryce Cotton and hope to finally get a healed Kris Dunn back in the fold with a very good recruiting class.
Xavier loses guard Semaj Christon - an NBA-level talent.
Marquette loses a number of big men but returns a highly-touted core of freshmen with a year of training under their belt for new coach Steve Wojciechowski.
And while St. John's looks to be in a state of flux, the team returns a pair of dynamo guards in D`Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan, though recent defections will hurt the defense immensely.
So we ask - which teams do you think can break into the top-25 from the Big East? And how do you think next year will finish? What teams are intriguing in the Big East or nationally?