VILLANOVA'S basketball team will open its Big East schedule Dec. 31 at the Pavilion against Xavier. The Wildcats' first conference road game is two days later at Creighton. Their regular season ends March 5 against Georgetown at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Big East tourney is March 9-12 at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats - who won the regular-season title the past two years and the postseason trophy last season - return two senior starters (Ryan Arcidiacono and Dnaiel Ochefu) from the team that won a school-record 33 times before losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They'll also have Big East Sixth Man of the Year Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson, considered one of the nation's top lead-guard recruits.

The journey begins Nov. 13 at home against Fairleigh Dickinson. The Wildcats get Stanford and either Arkansas or Georgia Tech in the NIT Tipoff Nov. 26-27 in Brooklyn. They'll play Oklahoma in Hawaii on Dec. 7 and go to Virginia on Dec. 19.

Their Big 5 games are at Saint Joseph's (Dec. 1) and Temple (Feb. 17) and at home against LaSalle (Dec. 13) and Penn (Dec. 28).

Their other South Philly games are Jan. 23 against Providence and Feb. 13 vs. St. John's. They're only playing three regular-season games at the WFC so they can remain eligible to play in the NCAA East Regional there, just in case.

SCHEDULE

Sunday, Nov. 8: PACE, 12 (WFC, Exhibition)

Friday, Nov. 13: FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON, 7

Tuesday, Nov. 17: NEBRASKA, 8:30

Nov. 20-22: NIT Season Tipoff/Villanova

Friday, Nov. 20: EAST TENNESSEE ST., 7

Sunday, Nov. 22: AKRON, 4:30

Nov. 26-27: NIT Season Tipoff/Brooklyn, N.Y.

Thursday, Nov. 26: vs. Stanford, 4:30

Friday, Nov. 27: vs. Ga. Tech/Arkansas, 12:30/3

Tuesday, Dec. 1: @Saint Joseph's, 7

Monday, Dec. 7: vs. Oklahoma, 7 (Hawaii)

Sunday, Dec. 13: LA SALLE, 5

Saturday, Dec. 19: @Virginia, 12

Tuesday, Dec. 22: DELAWARE, 7

Monday, Dec. 28: PENN, 7

Thursday, Dec. 31: *XAVIER, 12

Saturday, Jan. 2: *@Creighton, 10

Wednesday, Jan. 6: *SETON HALL, 7

Sunday, Jan. 10: *@Butler, 7:30

Wednesday, Jan. 13: *MARQUETTE, 8:30

Saturday, Jan. 16: *@Georgetown, 1

Wednesday, Jan. 20: *@Seton Hall, 9

Saturday, Jan. 23: *PROVIDENCE, 12 (WFC)

Sunday, Jan. 31: *@St. John's, 12

Wednesday, Feb. 3: *CREIGHTON, 8

Saturday, Feb. 6: *@Providence, 2:30

Tuesday, Feb. 9: *@DePaul, 8:30

Saturday, Feb. 13: *ST. JOHN'S, 8 (WFC)

Wednesday, Feb. 17: @Temple, 7

Saturday, Feb. 20: *BUTLER, 2:30

Wednesday, Feb. 24: *@Xavier, 7

Saturday, Feb. 27: *@Marquette, 2:30

Tuesday, March 1: *DE PAUL, 7

Saturday, March 5: *GEORGETOWN, 12 (WFC)

March 9-12: Big East Tournament (New York)

*Big East game. WFC: Well Fargo Center.