West Virginia, which had won or shared the Big East Conference championship six of the last nine seasons, is now gone, after bolting for the Big 12. And big changes are coming to the Big East next season.
Louisville, which finished tied for first in the conference last year in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, is the favorite at Bovada to win the Big East this season at 2/1.
The Cardinals return 14 starters from a team that went 5-2 in conference play last year, led by sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater, four along the O line and eight on defense. And the schedule is helpful, as Louisville gets the two other top contenders in the Big East this season, South Florida and Cincinnati, both at home.
Those USF Bulls are the second choice to win the Big East this season at 7/2. South Florida returns 15 starters from a team that went a disappointing 1-6 in the conference last year. But all six of those losses came by one score or less, three of them by three points.
The returnees include senior quarterback BJ Daniels, last year's top six receivers and seven on defense. But the Bulls have to play at Louisville and Cincy.
Cincinnati is the third choice to win the Big East this year at 4/1. The Bearcats return 12 starters from a team that also went 5-2 in conference last year, although they will have to break in a new starting quarterback, replace 1,200-yard rusher Isaiah Pead and fill three holes on the offensive line.
But the schedule is manageable, with four conference home games and a couple of winnable road games.
Rutgers comes next on the Big East betting board at 11/2. The Scarlet Knights get back 14 starters after going 4-3 in conference last year, but they've lost HC Greg Schiano, who left to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the pros.
They do return two experienced quarterbacks and eight starters on defense. But the schedule is tough, with road games at South Florida (on a Thursday night) and at Cincy.
And Pitt, with 13 starters back for its first season under new HC Chryst, including eight on offense, is getting 6/1 to win the Big East title this season.
Rounding out Bovada's 2012 Big East championship board Syracuse and Connecticut are both getting 25/1, while the newest member of the conference, Temple, is being offered at 30/1.