Villanova to open Big East tournament against St. John's

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Villanova head coach Jay Wright, right, talks with a player in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won 73-64 in overtime. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The final day of the last season of the Big East as we know it has concluded, and Villanova has emerged with the seventh seed in the conference tournament and a date against St. John's on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats (19-12, 10-8 Big East), who have a first-round bye, drew St. John's as their opponent after the Red Storm lost to Marquette on Saturday in overtime, and Cincinnati defeated South Florida, also in overtime. The Red Storm (16-14, 8-10) enter the tournament as the 10th seed, along with a four-game losing streak.

Villanova opened its Big East season against St. John's at the Pavilion on Jan. 2 and captured a 98-86 overtime victory.

The Wildcats, who ended their regular season Wednesday night with a 67-57 victory over No. 5 Georgetown at the Wells Fargo Center, enter the Big East post-season on the NCAA bubble and would need a win to solidify a bid.

The Big East tournament opens Tuesday night with two games involving the league's bottom four finishers. Seton Hall takes on South Florida in the first game and Rutgers goes against DePaul in the nightcap.

Wednesday's card finds eighth-seeded Providence and ninth-seeded Cincinnati opening play at noon, followed by No. 5 Syracuse against the winner of Seton Hall-South Florida at 2 p.m. Nova and St. John's will tip off at 7 p.m. and sixth-seeded Notre Dame concludes the day at 9 p.m. against the winner of Rutgers-DePaul.

The top four teams -- Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette and Pittsburgh -- have received byes into the quarterfinals. If the Wildcats get past St. John's, they will meet Louisville, the second seed, on Thursday night.

Pitt picked up the final two-round bye on Saturday with a victory over DePaul.

--Joe Juliano

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