Wednesday through Saturday, Madison Square Garden,

New York

Defending champion: Providence

SCHEDULE

(All games televised on Fox Sports 1):

Wednesday, first round

(8) Seton Hall vs. (9) Marquette, 7 p.m.

(7) DePaul vs. (10) Creighton, 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, quarterfinals

(1) Villanova vs. Seton Hall-Marquette winner, noon

(4) Providence vs. (5) St. John's, 2:30 p.m.

(2) Georgetown vs. DePaul-Creighton winner, 7 p.m.

(3) Butler vs. (6) Xavier, 9:30 p.m.

Friday, semifinals

Villanova-Seton Hall-Marquette winner vs. Providence-St. John's winner, 7 p.m.

Georgetown-DePaul-

Creighton winner vs. Butler-Xavier winner, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, championship

Friday's winners, 8 p.m.

Players to watch

Darrun Hilliard, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-6 (14.2 ppg., 1.8 steals); Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-3 (10.7 ppg., 3.6 apg); Kris Dunn, Providence, G, Soph., 6-3 ( 15.2 ppg., 7.4 apg., 2.8 steals); LaDontae Henton, Providence, F, Sr., 6-6 (20.1 ppg., 6.3 rpg.); D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown, G, Jr., 6-3, 16.0 ppg., 3.3 apg.); Kellen Dunham, Butler, G, Soph., 6-6 (16.6 ppg.); D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's, G, Sr., 6-4 (17.8 ppg.); Sir'Dominic Pointer, St. John's, F, Sr., 6-5 (13.7 ppg., 7.6 rpg., 2.5 blocks); Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall, G, Jr., 6-2 (16.7 ppg., 3.8 apg.); Matt Stainbrook, Xavier, C, Sr., 6-10 (12.0 ppg., 6.8 rpg.)

Outlook

Villanova, which captured the regular-season conference title by four games and is on a 12-game winning streak, is the favorite, but the Wildcats were in a similar position last year when they were upset by Seton Hall in their first game. A tournament championship would secure a No. 1 NCAA seed for 'Nova.

Butler and St. John's, competing on its home court, played the best down the stretch of any team not named Villanova while Georgetown has some key freshmen who aren't afraid of the spotlight.

Providence owns the conference's top 1-2 punch in Henton, the league's leading scorer, and Dunn, its top assist man.

- Joe Juliano

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