The Villanova Wildcats have had a hold on the Big East tournament over the last five years, but they are not favored to capture the 2021 edition.
Villanova is the No. 1 seed but is listed behind the Creighton Bluejays and UConn Huskies in the betting due to the absence of guard Collin Gillespie, who recently suffered a torn MCL.
Jay Wright's team struggled in its first game without Gillespie in which it dealt with another injury blow to Justin Moore.
Creighton's overall resume suggests it can handle the rigors of the Big East tournament, but it dealt with some issues of its own over the last three games.
Of the three teams with the best odds, UConn feels like the safest bet because its top player is healthy and playing at a high level.
Big East Bracket and Schedule
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Creighton (+200; bet $100 to win $200)
Seton Hall (+775)
St. John's (+2000)
Villanova is the three-time defending champion of the Big East tournament, but a victory this time around would be viewed as a minor upset.
The Wildcats struggled to score points in their first game without Gillespie against the Providence Friars on Saturday.
They eventually pieced together a run and only lost by two points, but it managed just 52 points while shooting 32.7 percent from the field.
Gillespie is Villanova's second-leading scorer with 14 points per game, and he leads the unit with 4.6 assists per contest.
Moore, who was expected to take on most of Gillespie's responsibilities, suffered a "pretty severe" ankle sprain, according to Wright.
If Moore's ankle does not heal in a few days, Villanova could be without its top two assisters for the start of the Big East tournament and beyond.
Villanova will still have three players who average over 10 points per game on the floor, but shots could be harder to come by with more of a focus on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Jermaine Samuels and Caleb Daniels.
The good news for Villanova is that it has a game against either the Georgetown Hoyas or Marquette Golden Eagles to fix its offensive woes before it faces a more challenging matchup in the semifinals.
However, there is a chance the Wildcats are upset in the semifinals by the Seton Hall Pirates or St. John's Red Storm.
ESPN's Joe Lunardi listed Seton Hall on the "first four out" line and St. John's among the "next four out" group on Sunday.
St. John's beat Villanova in the regular season, and it won its last two games to have a shot at the field of 68. The momentum created by those wins could make the Red Storm an intriguing long shot at +2000.
The most likely possibility features the winner of the bottom half of the bracket taking home the tournament crown on Saturday night.
Creighton beat UConn in both of their regular-season meetings, but those matchups occurred before February.
The Bluejays suffered losses to Villanova and the Xavier Musketeers at the end of the regular season, which could make them vulnerable to another loss in New York.
UConn is on a four-game winning streak, and its only loss since February 13 came at the hands of Villanova.
James Bouknight enters New York in the best form of any player, as he has 102 points in the last five games. In five of the six games since his injury return, Bouknight has shot over 40 percent from the field.
If the Huskies receive the similar production level from Bouknight over three games, they could channel the spirit of Kemba Walker and the 2011 team that defeated the Louisville Cardinals in the Big East tournament.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.
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