Five Big East newcomers will present different challenges on women’s side

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on the teams joining the Big East for the 2013-14 season.

TEMPLE OWLS (Atlantic 10)

Expect plenty of noise from women’s basketball at Temple. The Owls have made mincemeat of their foes lately and should carry that same momentum to the Big East.

Over the last five seasons, Temple has compiled a 140-60 record, but it strangely never won a conference tournament during that stretch.

Other teams at the Philadelphia school may be welcoming a change of scenery to the Big East; women’s soccer hasn’t finished a season above .500 since 2000 and has not qualified for the Atlantic 10 Tournament since 1995.

CENTRAL FLORIDA KNIGHTS (Conference USA)

Track and field is the go-to women’s sport at Central Florida. The Knights won the 2010 Conference USA outdoor title and the 2011 Conference USA indoor title.

Last year the team was ranked for the first time in the program’s history, reaching as high as No. 8 in the national polls.

Women’s basketball has been shaky recently, however, as the Knights have posted records of 11-16, 22-11 and 12-17 in each of the last three seasons. The Knights will be wanting some stability as they inch closer to playing more challenging competition, but do not count them out as basement dwellers in their Big East infancy.

SOUTHERN METHODIST MUSTANGS (Conference USA)

Keep an eye on the SMU women’s volleyball. Although the Mustangs had an off year last season (15-17) after finishing 25-6 in 2010, the team has four freshmen and four sophomores on the roster this year. This will be a learning year for these players, and once they get enough experience they just might be giant killers in Big East play.

The basketball team, however, has been less impressive. SMU has only made the NCAA tournament twice since 2000 despite putting up seven 17-plus win seasons in that span.

MEMPHIS TIGERS (Conference USA)

Footballers beware: the Memphis women’s soccer team doesn’t mess around. The Tigers finished 22-1-1 last season en route to a Conference USA championship and an NCAA tournament appearance.

The Tigers are currently ranked No. 24 in the national polls, although they have dropped two of their first three matches so far this year. Nonetheless, it will be intriguing to see how well the Tigers match up with Big East nemeses.

Women’s basketball at Memphis hasn’t been nearly as successful as the men’s squad – the Tigers have not made an NCAA tournament appearance since 1998.

HOUSTON COUGARS (Conference USA)

Cougars women’s basketball had a complete fallout last season, finishing 3-26 after going 26-6 the year before and making the tournament.

Although the team will struggle again this year because of its youth (six freshmen on the roster), it will also help Houston pose a challenge to stiffer competition in 2013.

Tennis will be also be a hot topic in Houston; the Cougars have put together 10 straight winning seasons, and the team will have matches against teams from the Big East, Big 12 and the SEC, solid preparation for what is to come in the near future.