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Big East Basketball Preview: St. John's, Rutgers, Seton Hall In Action Thursday

Big East Conference men's basketball is in full swing and Thursday night three of the four SB Nation New York programs, St. John's, Rutgers and Seton Hall, each have contests. Here's a brief look at the match ups.

The Big East Conference men's basketball season is in full swing and Thursday night three of the four SB Nation New York programs, St. John's University, Rutgers University and Seton Hall University, are all in action. Overall, all three teams have a combined 5-1 record, while the league as a whole is 35-3 -- on Wednesday, the University of Pittsburgh, ranked No. 9 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN coaches polls, was upset by Long Beach State, 86-76.

If you haven't been following the local Big East basketball programs, here's a quick look at Thursday's match ups:

St. John's Red Storm vs. Arizona Wildcats (2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic -- Madison Square Garden)

The Red Storm (3-0) will face the Wildcats (3-0), ranked No. 15 in both college basketball polls, in probably the most anticipated game of the night. Both teams are meeting in the semifinal round of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at MSG (9:30 p.m. on ESPN2). St. John's defeated William and Marry College, 74-59, and Lehigh University, 78-73, to advance to the tournament's Final Four, while 'Zona knocked off Duquesne University, 67-59, and Ball State University, 73-63. The winner will either play Texas A&M or Mississippi State University in Friday's final, 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

This will be a tough one for the Red Storm, who play many of their home games at MSG. However, that shouldn't be too much of a problem for Arizona, which, since 1990, is 11-1 at MSG.

Seton Hall Pirates at Va. Commonwealth Rams (5 p.m. on ESPNU)

So far, the Pirates (1-0) have played just one game this season and it ended with a thrilling 75-71 overtime victory over St. Francis University. Senior point guard Jordan Theodore netted a game-best 25 points, including a game-tying layup with just seconds to go in regulation.

Meanwhile, every college basketball fans remember VCU's amazing Final Four run last season under head coach Shaka Smart. This season, the Rams (1-0) are predicted to finish third in 12-team Colonial Athletic Association.

The contest is apart of the 2011 Charleston Classic, a eight-team tournament that plays its semifinal and final rounds, Nov. 18 and 20, at TD Arena in Charleston, SC.

Scared Heart Pioneers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7:30 p.m.)

Rutgers (1-1), which is coming off a tough 72-57 loss to the University of Miami, will play in the first round of the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge. The Scarlet Knights play Thursday, then host Hampton University Sunday before traveling to Cancun, Mexico to play Illinois State University, Nov. 22, and then either University of Illinois or University of Richmond, Nov. 23.