Steve Lavin doesn’t subscribe to the notion Thursday’s Big East quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Providence is an NCAA Tournament elimination game.

While Lavin said the contest between bubble teams is “a significant game for a number of reasons,” the St. John’s coach also said there are a lot of unknown moving parts.

“It is sheer speculation at this point,” Lavin said on a conference call prior to this week’s Big East Tournament, which begins Wednesday night at the Garden. “Providence may be in the tournament already, we may be in the tournament already. There may be five teams already in [from the Big East], but we really don’t know what’s going on in that room as the selection committee works over the next week.”

St. John’s (20-11) finished the regular season strong, winning 11 of its last 14 games, and has an RPI of 57. It, however, only has one win over a top 50 RPI opponent in Creighton. The prevailing feeling is the Big East has two teams secure for the tournament, top seeds Villanova and Creighton. Despite two straight losses, Xavier is expected to receive an at-large bid as well.

That could leave one spot among St. John’s, Providence and Georgetown. And since St. John’s and Providence split their two regular-season meetings, Thursday’s game could serve as a tie-breaker. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi believes the winner would be in good position to receive a bid and the loser would be out.

“We can only control our performance on the floor and so we focus on accumulating wins,” Lavin said. “If you win enough games you take the decision out of the selection committee’s hands.”

Senior forward Fuquan Edwin became just the second Seton Hall player in program history to be named Big East Defensive Player of the Year, joining Jerry Walker, who won the award in 1992-93. The Paterson, N.J., native passed Seton Hall great Dan Callandrillo this year to become the school’s all-time career steals leader, setting a record which had stood for 32 years.

He enters Wednesday’s game against No. 9 Butler with 292 career steals, second most among active Division I players, behind Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, who had 324.

“Fuquan’s put a lot of work into his defense,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “We’re just thrilled a lot of the coaches recognize him as one of the best defensive players in the country.”

Edwin has 74 steals this season and is second in the nation with 2.8 thefts a game.