A tough matchup on Dec. 17 at Creighton will mark Villanova’s first game of the Big East Conference men’s basketball season, according to the schedule released Thursday by the league.

The Wildcats, who won the Big East regular-season championship last season for the seventh time in the last eight years, and the league’s other 10 teams are planning to play a full 20-game schedule after the pandemic forced numerous cancellations last season.

The game against the Bluejays, which is also the season opener for the conference, matches two teams that reached the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. They will meet again 19 days later, Jan. 5, at Finneran Pavilion.

The Cats’ Big East home opener on campus is set for Dec. 21 against Xavier, a team they did not play last year because of COVID-19 pauses for both teams.

The Wildcats, expected to be in the top 10 of the preseason national rankings, will play seven league contests on campus and three others at the Wells Fargo Center, their first games in South Philadelphia since Feb. 29, 2020. Their three opponents there are Butler (Jan. 16), Connecticut (Feb. 5), and Seton Hall (Feb. 12).

The Cats close the regular season March 5 at Butler. The Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden will run from March 9 through 12.

Before the start of Big East competition, the Wildcats will play 10 nonconference games starting with a Nov. 9 contest against Mount St. Mary’s at the Finn. Four of their opponents likely will be ranked — Nov. 12 at UCLA, Nov. 20 against Tennessee in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic in Uncasville, Conn.; Nov. 21 versus either North Carolina or Purdue, and Dec. 12 at defending national champion Baylor.

The Wildcats play their first two Big 5 games on the road — Nov. 28 at La Salle and Dec. 1 at Penn — before home dates against St. Joseph’s on Dec. 4 and Temple on Dec. 29.

Game times and television information will be announced in the coming days.