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The Sun's Arizin: The table is set for the best Big East season yet

The second tier got the league started last night for today's main events.

Happy Thursday, New Year's Eve, and GAMEDAY 'Nova Nation! It was very enjoyable to watch Big East basketball last night even if it was between some of the lower-half teams within the conference. That set the stage well for today where we'll get to watch the top 4 teams go head-to-head - and they'll be the only Top 25 games of the day and roll you right in to the College Football Playoff.

See you in the game thread!

And now, the "news."

Big East basketball: Xavier, Providence, Butler & 'Nova battling | SI.com
Xavier finished the non-conference season undefeated, but will it be able to hold off Villanova, Providence and Butler in Big East play?

2015-16 Big East Season Preview Roundtable | Big East Coast Bias
As conference play is set to get going, we reached out to writers covering all 10 Big East sites to take the pulse of their teams heading into BIG EAST competition. Brian participated on our behalf.

Big East basketball: Previewing the two marquee New Year's Eve games | NCAA.com
Two huge games in the Big East will go down on New Year's Eve.

True test for Villanova begins as Big East slate gets underway | Philly.com
OK, SO WHAT'S more surprising: that the Big East has three teams in the Top 12, or that Villanova isn't one of them?

No. 6 Xavier to Face No. 16 Wildcats in BIG EAST Opener | Villanova.com
A Top 20 showdown looms at the Pavilion as No. 6 Xavier comes to Villanova to meet the No. 16 Wildcats on Dec. 31 (FS1/610 Sports Radio WTEL).

Bilas Index The top 68 show this season is different | ESPN ($)
The Bilastrator warned you early. He told you this season would be different. Different doesn't mean bad -- just different. The top 68 teams proves that, and proves The Bilastrator knows all. He has 'Nova at #9.

Three Roster Questions for the Villanova game | Banners On The Parkway
Villanova launches a ton of three pointers and Xavier loves to give them up. Is there a personnel grouping that gives the Musketeers a chance to challenge beyond the arc?

Growing Pains: Seton Hall 83, Marquette 63 | Anonymous Eagle
Marquette got a rude introduction to BIG EAST play, as the rampaging Pirates of Seton Hall walloped MU at the Bradley Center on Wednesday night.

Big East coaches tell us their stories of their first jobs in the business | FOX Sports
"I was an assistant coach at the University of Rochester, a Division III school. And I was also the assistant intramural director, and I was the head coach of the JV team."

A Long Shot: College Athletes Overestimate their Chances of going pro | Inside Higher Ed
Men's hoops players are the most unrealistic. More than three-quarters of men’s basketball players in Division I say they believe it is at least "somewhat likely" they will play professionally. More than half of Division II players say the same, as do 21 percent of Division III players. Only 1.2 percent of college basketball players will be drafted by an NBA team.

Basketball’s Birth, in James Naismith’s Own Spoken Words | NYTimes.com
James Naismith, basketball’s inventor, arrived in New York City in early 1939 with three items on his agenda.

Baby tries bacon for the first time, is overcome with joy | Mashable
An ecstatic baby shares his love of bacon with the world.