Big East Tournament: A Preview and Rundown
It is finally March and the Big East Tournament has officially arrived, which can only mean one thing-the return of the insanity that comes with tournament play at the Garden.
Just a year ago the Big East was the last conference to host the start of their tournament before eventually getting shutdown due to the rise of the coronavirus, which also canceled March Madness before it could even start. Now, a year later, the Big East Conference returns to New York City and looks to host a complete tournament.
🥳 The wait is finally over!
The #BEtourney tips off today on FS1 live from Madison Square Garden.
🏀: https://t.co/dKnjDO3Y3X pic.twitter.com/7q4bjQZmrF
— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) March 10, 2021
This Season in Review:
The regular season saw its own challenges for the league, as some programs faced pauses in their play due to covid-related interferences, which ultimately caused a ripple effect and impacted the whole group. The top seed, Villanova, in particular faced an almost 4-week pause in play to start its regular conference play.
Beyond this weekend’s play, bracketologists have 3 Big East teams locked in for tickets to the Big Dance; Villanova, Creighton and UConn. On the bubble and counting on this tournament’s play to determine their NCAA fate are Seton Hall and St. John’s.
Last Year’s Tournament
While the Big East was unable to finish their whole tournament and crown a champion, it was a season full of competitive play. In the regular season 3 teams had finished with tied records at the top, Villanova, Creighton and Seton Hall, with Providence not far behind them all.
Despite pulling the plug mid-game in one of its early rounds, the tournament was predicted to be one full of competition. Many Big East teams were also projected to go far in March Madness, and with many sources predicting the Seton Hall Pirates to have won it all.
Big East Tournament Rundown
The Big East Tournament opens up on Wednesday, March 10th and the championship will be played on Saturday March 13th.
Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Teams to Watch:
The Villanova Wildcats clenched the top spot in the conference yet again, through the strong leadership of head coach Jay Wright. In the regular season the team went 11-4, and the program has one of the most consistent and winningest records in Big East History, having won 4 of the last 5 Big East Tournaments.
BIG EAST Regular Season Champs for the 7️⃣th time in the last 8️⃣ years!
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) March 4, 2021
The Creighton Bluejays, despite recent drama and controversy with head coach Gregg McDermott also look to make a splash in Big East play this weekend. Finishing regular play with a 14-6 record, Big East Preseason Player of the Year Marcus Zegarowski will attempt to hold down both the backcourt for the Bluejays and the whole tournament.
#17 Creighton will be the second seed on Thursday when it opens BIG EAST Tournament play vs. either Butler or Xavier at Madison Square Garden.
PREVIEW: https://t.co/FQVsgMvFTC pic.twitter.com/sBupL558O4
— Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) March 9, 2021
After a seven-year hiatus from the Big East, Dan Hurley’s Huskies made a statement in their homecoming year finishing 11-6. Supported by sophomore James Bouknight, the skies have won 6 of their last 7 and look to continue the momentum in post-season play.
St. John’s (4)
Mike Anderson’s Johnnies could very well be the dark horse of the tournament this weekend. While looking to secure their spot in March Madness, the team will have home court advantage. The Johnnies have also pulled off some great upsets this season against Villanova and UConn, on top of winning 3 of their last 5 games.
Players to Look For:
Sandro Mamukelashvili (Seton Hall):
The 6’11 forward from the Republic of Georgia was just one of two players in the conference unanimously named All-Big East First Team per vote by conference coaches.
Mamukelashvili was also named one of three players to share the Big East Player of the Year award for this season. The senior is second in the league in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game and is sixth in rebounds, averaging 7.2 each game.
We are ecstatic that our guy @Mamukelashvili5 has been named @BIGEASTMBB Player of the Year! 🙌
That’s back-to-back Player of the Year honors for the program! #HALLin 🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/VaoFAhXL7w
— Seton Hall Men's Basketball (@SetonHallMBB) March 10, 2021
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova):
Being the other player alongside Mamukelashvili of the aforementioned two who unanimously earned All-Big East First Team, the versatile sophomore will look to compensate for the absence of Gillespie and help the Wildcats try to earn another title.
He was also one of the three players along with Gillespie to be named Big East Player of the Year this season. At 6’9, Robinson-Earl is eighth in the league in scoring, averaging 15.2 points per game and is second in rebounding, putting up an average of 8.4 per game.
𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎-𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏 𝐁𝐈𝐆 𝐄𝐀𝐒𝐓 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫 💪💪💪
Congrats to our guys!@Colling1021 x @JCREarl pic.twitter.com/nQeJMz2zTP
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) March 10, 2021
James Bouknight (UConn):
The sophomore Husky has been essential in UConn’s statement of a homecoming year despite facing an elbow injury in the regular season. The 6’5 guard averages 20.2 points per game and is also a member of the All-Big East First Team.
The tournament is set up single-elimination style with its top three teams receiving byes for the first round.
First Round: March 10th
- Game 1 (3PM, EST)
- Georgetown (8) vs. Marquette (9)
- Game 2 (6 PM, EST)
- Xavier (7) vs. Butler (10)
- Game 3 (9 PM, EST)
- Providence (6) vs. DePaul (11)
Second Round/Quarterfinals: March 11th:
- Game 4 (12 PM, EST)
- Villanova (1) vs. Game 1 Winner (Georgetown or Marquette)
- Game 5 (3 PM, EST)
- Johns (4) vs. Seton Hall (5)
- Game 6 (6 PM, EST)
- Creighton (2) vs. Game 2 Winner (Xavier or Butler)
- Game 7 (9 PM, EST)
- UConn (3) vs. Game 3 Winner (Providence or DePaul)
Third Round/Semi-Final: March 12th:
- Game 8 (6 PM, EST)
- Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5
- Game 9 (9 PM, EST)
- Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 7
Championship: March 13th
Tip-off for the final is TBA.
How to Watch:
The first three rounds will all be on Fox Sports One, but the championship will air on FOX.