If you want a preview of March Madness in one extended weekend, the Big East Conference tournament is a great place to set your sights.
Joe Lunardi latest projected bracket for ESPN has the Big East pegged as one of the biggest suppliers of tourney teams this season with seven of the league's 10 teams in the field.
That's a sign of the strength of the conference this season. Villanova has dominated in recent years, winning the last three tournaments and five of the last six regular-season titles. However, the Wildcats are far from a lock to come away with this year's championship.
With so much parity in the league, there are bound to be some great games played at Madison Square Garden, and we'll find out about plenty of teams who are headed to the NCAA Tournament.
Big East Tournament TV Schedule
First Round: Wednesday, March 11 (FS1)
Game 1: No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed at 7 p.m.
Game 2: No. 7 seed vs. No. 10 seed at 9:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 12 (FS1)
Game 3: No. 1 seed vs. Game 1 winner at 12 p.m.
Game 4: No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed at 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: No. 2 seed vs. Game 2 winner at 7 p.m.
Game 6: No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed at 9:30 p.m.
Semifinals: Fri., March 13 (FS1)
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner at 6:30 p.m.
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner at 9 p.m.
Championship: Sat., March 14 (Fox)
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner at 6:30 p.m.
All times are ET.
1. Seton Hall
9. St. John's
The Three-Way Race to the Finish
With several teams sporting similar records, there's still a lot to be decided about the bracket. Specifically, the regular-season title is still up for grabs.
Seton Hall is in the driver's seat with a 13-3 record in conference play. The Pirates have the toughest final two games of anyone, though. They'll need to win against Villanova at home on Wednesday night or at Creighton on Saturday to claim the title outright.
The Pirates would have to lose to both Villanova and Creighton for either of those teams to claim the top seed through tiebreakers.
The Wildcats are fresh off one of their worst shooting performances of the Jay Wright era. They were 5-of-30 from deep in a four-point loss to Providence, which snapped a five-game winning streak and hurt their title chances.
However, that's likely to be an aberration. Villanova has shot 35.6 percent from three-point range as a team this season, so regression to the mean should help them out.
As for Creighton, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team more difficult to figure out. The Jays are as Jekyll-and-Hyde as it gets. Just when they put on one of their best performances of the season in an 81-59 beatdown of Butler, they then turn around and lose to St. John's by 20.
In all likelihood, Seton Hall finds a way to claim a regular-season conference title for the first time since 1993.
The Sleeper: Providence Friars
If you're a ranked team, you don't want to see Providence.
The Friars have been pulling upset after upset entering rare company. Their wins over Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall and Villanova are truly a feat.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Providence defeated Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, Marquette and Villanova this month, all of whom entered the game ranked in the AP poll. The Friars are the 5th team to ever secure 5 wins over ranked opponents in a single calendar month during the regular season. https://t.co/26B76lkAlY
They have had struggles this season. Early-season losses to Rhode Island, Long Beach State and Charleston highlighted that, but they've also shown they can play with the best. That's a dangerous team come tourney time.
Guard Luwane Pipkins has a lot to do with that. He's only averaging 10 points per game on the season, but he went for 27 and 24 in his last two outings, both wins over ranked opponents.
Pipkins' ability to take over and create his own shot is the kind of thing that will make Providence a contender once the tourney starts.
Player to Watch: Marquette G Markus Howard
Outside of Pipkins another player to watch is Markus Howard.
Marquette hasn't been anything special this season, but it isn't for a lack of Howard trying. The senior guard can fill up the stat sheet and put up 51 points, eight assists and 11 rebounds up in two Big East tournament games as a junior.
The nation's leading scorer, he has topped the 40-point mark three times this season. With one last chance to show out in the conference tournament, he's a good bet to eclipse the mark again.
Howard's three-point shooting alone can keep the Golden Eagles in games. He's shooting at a 40 percent clip, which is all the more impressive when you throw in the fact that he is fourth in the nation with attempts at 274 this season.
The Golden Eagles aren't likely to make a run, but it's going to be a lot of fun watching Howard try to will his team to a run.