With the Big East tournament set to tip off on Wednesday night, let’s take a look at some storylines and relive some of the best moments in tourney history. Spoiler alert: there are plenty of each.
-Can Xavier turn things around?
Ever since Xavier lost Edmond Sumner, the Musketeers have looked, well…. lost. The X dropped six games in a row before rebounding against DePaul on Saturday. Xavier faces the Blue Demons again on Wednesday night in what feels like a must-win affair. A W for the Musketeers would pit them against No. 2 Butler on Thursday.
-Will Seton Hall keep up its momentum?The Pirates won the Big East tournament a year ago, and they’re streaking right now – Seton Hall has won four in a row, including an unlikely road upset at Butler. Angel Delgado is a double-double machine who will become a household name if the Pirates make a March run.
-If Villanova meets Butler in the title game, can the Bulldogs top the Wildcats for a third time?
Villanova has three losses. Two of them have come against Butler. Pulling off the trifecta is difficult against any team – let alone the national champions. But in the two prior matchups, the Bulldogs have looked like the superior team.
-Can Marquette’s fire-breathing backcourt make up for its lackluster defense?
Marquette takes on Seton Hall in its tournament opener, and the Golden Eagles are led by sharpshooting guards Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey. On the right night, they can beat anyone; Marquette shoots 43 percent from 3-point range, which is tops in the nation. Howard (55.1 percent) and Rowsey (45.5 percent) are both matchup nightmares, but the Golden Eagles need to shape up defensively in order to top the Hall.
-Will Georgetown salvage some pride?
A 5-13 Big East record was not what Hoya fans were hoping for in 2017. Georgetown has dropped seven of its last eight games, but a solid showing in the conference tournament could give the program a boost going into 2017-18.
As college basketball fans know, the Big East tournament has produced some of the most iconic moments in the history of the sport during its time. The conference underwent a massive makeover prior to the 2013-14 season – but the tournament still takes place in Madison Square Garden. Regardless of the teams involved, these memories won’t soon be forgotten.
1996: Battle of the Allens
Georgetown vs. Connecticut. Allen Iverson vs. Ray Allen. For the Big East championship. Does it get any better?
As expected, the Hoyas and the Huskies battled down to the wire. What wasn’t expected – Georgetown was up by 13 with three minutes to play, and UConn scored the last 14 points of regulation. Iverson’s squad nearly won it with a buzzer-beating tip-in, but no dice. The Huskies prevailed in an epic comeback:
2006: Gerry McNamara goes bonkers
Syracuse had lost 9 of 13 heading into the 2006 Big East tournament and was unlikely to go dancing – until Gerry McNamara single-handedly dominated the conference for a few days.
He was incredibly clutch. McNamara hit a buzzer-beater to top Cincinnati. Down three against UConn, he nailed a three to send the game into overtime. The fact that there is an eight-minute McNamara highlight reel from one conference tournament says it all:
2009: Syracuse defeats UConn in six overtimes
The longest game in Big East tournament history – the six-overtime bout lasted almost four hours. The names on Syracuse will bring back all of the feels – Johnny Flynn had 34 points and 11 assists, Eric Devendorf dropped 22, while Paul Harris chipped in 29 points and 22(!) rebounds. When you think of the Big East tournament, you immediately harken back to this game:
Syracuse would beat West Virginia the next day before running out of gas against Louisville on Saturday.
2010: West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler hits two bank shot game-winners
First against Cincinnati:
Then against Georgetown to win the crown:
The glass was friendly to West Virginia in 2010.
2011: Kemba Walker completes one of the greatest March runs ever
UConn won five games in five nights. Walker's 130 points in the tournament broke the previous record. He hit a buzzer-beater against Pittsburgh with one of the smoothest step-backs you’ll ever see. If you’re a UConn fan, the highlights never get old.
2016: Whitehead leads Seton Hall to the crown over Villanova
Villanova would go on to win the national championship, but people were high on Seton Hall going into last year’s Big Dance because of Isaiah Whitehead. The Pirates knocked off the Wildcats in the Big East tournament final thanks to the do-it-all guard’s heroics. He had 26 points against the eventual champs: