By Josh Adams

@NCAAhoopsdigest

There is no free lunch in the Big East Conference.

Last season the conference was so stacked it sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament. With seniors like Villanova All-American Josh Hart graduating and players like St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds and Providence guard Kyron Cartwright emerging as stars, the Big East could see a bit of a shift in the standings in 2017-18. Villanova will be hard pressed to defend their Big East title considering they have an absolutely brutal conference schedule in February. The Wildcats play NINE times in the month facing off against Seton Hall twice, Creighton twice, Providence, Xavier, DePaul, St. John’s and Butler.

The Big East’s success has been noticed nationally with the major networks. The conference will have 16 national games on Fox and 3 on CBS. The Big East Tournament Championship game will be broadcast on Fox at 6:30 this season instead of the regular 5:30 start.

In other storylines:

Georgetown begins the Patrick Ewing era at home when they face Butler on December 27th. The Bulldogs have a new coach as well with LaVall Jordan taking the reigns from Chris Holtmann who departed to Ohio State.

Seton Hall returns four senior starters as they look poised to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates open up at home against Creighton on December 28th. The Blue Jays have an All- Big East player in Marcus Foster while trying to replace the production that was lost from the departure of Maurice Watson and Justin Patton.

Xavier advanced to the Elite 8 last year and they have returned preseason Big East Player of the Year Candidate Trevon Bluiett. The Musketeers backcourt of J.P. Macura and Bluiett will be one of the better tandems in the nation. They open up on the road against a Marquette team that is young but has plenty of talent. The Golden Eagles returned to the NCAA Tournament last year after missing the postseason for the three previous years.

Providence returns almost everyone from a team that was supposed to be rebuilding last season. Ed Cooley and his Friars never got the memo and made it to their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament. They open up on the road against St. John’s. Progress for the Red Storm under Chris Mullin has been slow but steady. The program looks to make a leap this season with the addition of several impact transfers that will help the nucleus of Ponds and Marcus LoVett take the team to it’s first postseason birth under Mullin.

Villanova lost Hart and NCAA Championship hero Kris Jenkins to graduation. The Wildcats won’t miss a beat without them. Jalen Brunson is an All-American candidate at guard and Villanova has multi-dimensional players like Eric Paschall and Mikal Bridges to fill in the roles left by Hart and Jenkins. They open up against DePaul who will be moving into a new downtown arena that will hopefully kickstart a program that has been in the basement of the conference for years. The Blue Demons hope the new digs help them keep some Chicago recruits local and turn around the program.

The games and TV listings are as follows:

Wednesday, December 27

Butler at Georgetown 6:30 FS1

Villanova at DePaul 7:30 CBSSN

Xavier at Marquette 8:30 FS1

Thursday, December 28

Creighton at Seton Hall 6:30 FS1

Providence at St. John’s (CA) 7:00 FSN

Saturday, December 30

DePaul at Xavier 2:00 FS1

Villanova at Butler 4:00 CBS

Georgetown at Marquette 4:30 FS1

Sunday, December 31

St. John’s at Seton Hall Noon or 5:00 FS1

Providence at Creighton 2:30 FS1

Tuesday, January 2

Butler at Xavier 7:00 FS1

Georgetown at DePaul 9:00 FS1

Wednesday, January 3

Marquette at Providence 6:30 CBSSN

St. John’s at Creighton 8:00 FS1

Saturday, January 6

Xavier at Providence Noon FOX

Creighton at Georgetown Noon FSN

DePaul at St. John’s (CA) 2:00 FSN

Seton Hall at Butler 2:30 FS1

Marquette at Villanova (WF) 7:30 FS1

Tuesday, January 9

Georgetown at St. John’s (MSG) 6:30 FS1

Butler at Creighton 8:30 FS1

Seton Hall at Marquette 9:00 CBSSN

Wednesday, January 10

Xavier at Villanova (WF) 8:00 FS1

Friday, January 12

Marquette at Butler 6:30 FS1

Providence at DePaul 8:30 FS1

Saturday, January 13

Georgetown at Seton Hall Noon FS1

Creighton at Xavier 2:00 FOX

Villanova at St. John’s (MSG) 8:00 TBD

Monday, January 15

Butler at Providence 4:30 FS1

DePaul at Marquette 9:00 FS1

Wednesday, January 17

Villanova at Georgetown 6:30 FS1

St. John’s at Xavier 8:30 CBSSN

Seton Hall at Creighton 8:30 FS1

Saturday, January 20

St. John’s at Georgetown Noon FS1

Butler at DePaul 2:00 FS1

Xavier at Seton Hall 2:30 FOX

Creighton at Providence 3:00 CBSSN

Tuesday, January 23

Providence at Villanova (WF) 6:30 FS1

Creighton at St. John’s (CA) 8:30 FS1

Wednesday, January 24

Marquette at Xavier 6:30 FS1

DePaul at Georgetown 8:30 FS1

Saturday, January 27

St. John’s at Butler 2:30 FS1

Georgetown at Creighton 8:00 CBSSN

Sunday, January 28

Villanova at Marquette 1:00 FOX

Seton Hall at DePaul 4:00 CBSSN

Tuesday, January 30

Xavier at St. John’s (CA) 8:30 CBSSN

Wednesday, January 31

Providence at Seton Hall 7:00 FS1

Butler at Marquette 9:00 FS1

Thursday, February 1

Creighton at Villanova (WF) 6:30 FS1

Saturday, February 3

DePaul at Butler Noon FS1

Providence at Marquette 2:30 FS1

Georgetown at Xavier 6:00 CBSSN

Sunday, February 4

Seton Hall at Villanova (WF) Noon FOX

Tuesday, February 6

Xavier at Butler 6:30 FS1

Georgetown at Providence 8:30 FS1

Wednesday, February 7

Marquette at Seton Hall 7:00 FS1

St. John’s at Villanova (WF) 7:00 CBSSN

Creighton at DePaul 9:00 FS1

Saturday, February 10

Butler at Villanova (WF) Noon FOX

Marquette at St. John’s (CA) Noon FSN

Xavier at Creighton 2:30 FOX

Seton Hall at Georgetown 4:00 CBSSN

DePaul at Providence 4:00 FSN

Tuesday, February 13

Georgetown at Butler 6:30 CBSSN

Wednesday, February 14

Villanova at Providence 7:00 FS1

St. John’s at DePaul 9:00 CBSSN

Seton Hall at Xavier 9:00 FS1

Saturday, February 17

Providence at Butler Noon FOX

Villanova at Xavier 4:30 FOX

Marquette at Creighton 10:00 FSN

Sunday, February 18

DePaul at Seton Hall 1:00 FS1

Tuesday, February 20

Creighton at Butler 7:00 FS1

Wednesday, February 21

Xavier at Georgetown 6:30 FS1/FSN

Seton Hall at Providence 6:30 FS1/FSN

St. John’s at Marquette 8:30 FSN

DePaul at Villanova (WF) 8:30 FS1

Saturday, February 24

Seton Hall at St. John’s (MSG) Noon FOX

Marquette at DePaul Noon FSN

Providence at Georgetown Noon CBSSN

Villanova at Creighton 2:30 FOX

Monday, February 26

Marquette at Georgetown 7:00 FS1

Tuesday, February 27

DePaul at Creighton 9:00 FS1

Wednesday, February 28

Providence at Xavier 6:30 FS1

Villanova at Seton Hall 8:30 FS1

Butler at St. John’s (CA) 9:00 CBSSN

Saturday, March 3

Xavier at DePaul Noon TBD

Butler at Seton Hall TBD TBD

Creighton at Marquette TBD TBD

Georgetown at Villanova (WF) TBD FOX

St. John’s at Providence TBD TBD

The BIG EAST Tournament

March 7 First Round Doubleheader 7:00 FS1

March 8 Quarterfinal Doubleheader Noon FS1

Quarterfinal Doubleheader 7:00 FS1

March 9 Semifinal Doubleheader 6:30 FS1

March 10 Championship Game 6:30 FOX

FOX Broadcast Network Schedule

Dec. 16 Butler vs. Purdue Noon

Jan. 6 Xavier at Providence Noon

Jan. 13 Creighton at Xavier 2:00

Jan. 20 Xavier at Seton Hall 2:30

Jan. 28 Villanova at Marquette 1:00

Feb. 3 Duke at St. John’s (MSG) Noon

Feb. 4 Seton Hall at Villanova (WF) Noon

Feb. 10 Butler at Villanova (WF) Noon

Xavier at Creighton 2:30

Feb. 17 Providence at Butler Noon

Villanova at Xavier 4:30

Feb. 24 Seton Hall at St. John’s (MSG) Noon

Villanova at Creighton 2:30

March 4 FOX Wildcard TBD

FOX Wildcard TBD

FOX Wildcard TBD

CBS Sports Schedule

Dec. 16 Syracuse at Georgetown 12:30

Dec. 30 Villanova at Butler 4:00