The 2012-13 Big East schedule began Monday with No. 14 Cincinnati beating 24th-ranked Pittsburgh, 70-61. Like Syracuse, Pitt is spending its final season in the conference. The league already lost West Virginia, which is in the Big 12, and now competes with 15 teams.
The status of other Big East teams after this season is uncertain. Notre Dame (ACC), Louisville (ACC), and Rutgers (Big Ten) have announced they're moving elsewhere and could try to negotiate early exits without paying a penalty. Villanova is among seven Catholic schools that do not play in the Football Bowl Subdivision and are withdrawing after the 2014-15 season.
For Wright, the upheaval means no more trips to Syracuse's Carrier Dome, where the Wildcats will play on Jan. 12, and to Pittsburgh, where they will play their final road game on March 3.
"I was an assistant here for five years," he said. "I've been here [as head coach] for 12 years. I'm so used to it. I don't think it's going to hit me until next year when we don't do it. I'm so used to going to the same places. This will be 17 years for me going to Syracuse. It's almost hard to believe you're not going to do it."
As conference play begins, the Big East has six teams in the top 25. Louisville (12-1) is the highest at No. 4, with its only defeat coming against top-ranked Duke. Syracuse, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Pitt also are in the top 25.
Of course, starting the Big East season reveals a truer measure of a team's strength. Pitt opened Monday after surviving a Murderers' Row of North Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Delaware State, and Kennesaw State. And don't forget Villanova lost by 18 at home to Columbia and struggled Friday with New Jersey Tech for 36 minutes before winning.
Right now, the six ranked teams appear to have the best chance at an NCAA bid. Other than Connecticut, which is ineligible for the NCAA tournament because of poor scores on the Academic Progress Rate, no other team appears equipped at the moment to make a postseason run.
But with 135 conference games to play, that notion is subject to change.
Contact Joe Juliano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.