Big East Men's Basketball Tournament
The Big East Tournament is the annual, single-elimination postseason tournament played each March following the conference's regular season, with the champion earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. First played in 1980 in Providence, R.I., with the conference's original seven teams competing, the tournament has grown to include all 15 teams (if eligible) from the league with higher seeds earning byes through the opening rounds. The Big East tournament has been played at Madison Square Garden in New York City since 1983. Georgetown and Connecticut are tied for the most tournament titles (seven) in Big East history.
Louisville won its second consecutive tournament title in 2013, giving the Cardinals three titles in five years.
All 15 Big East schools take part in the single-elimination conference tournament, unless they are ineligible for postseason play. With the departure of West Virginia to the Big 12 and Connecticut's ineligiblity, only 14 teams will take part in 2013. The top four seeds (based on final regular-season records) will earn byes throught the first two rounds of play. Teams seeded 11-14 will be the only teams playing the first round.
With the aim to create a basketball-strong collegiate conference, seven Eastern schools -- Boston College, the University of Connecticut, Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Syracuse -- formed the Big East Conference in 1979 and set up a modified schedule to begin conference play for the 1979-80 season.
The inaugural Big East tournament was played in March 1980 at the Providence Civic Center following the regular season, and was set up as a single-elimination competition with each conference school seeded based on its regular-season record. As top seed among the seven teams, Syracuse was given a bye in the opening quarterfinal round before topping Connecticut in the semifinals. But the Orangemen were defeated by Georgetown in the Big East championship game, 87-81, with the Hoyas' Craig Shelton earning most valuable player honors.
Villanova University joined the conference for the next season, after which Syracuse hosted the league's postseason tournament on its home court at the Carrier Dome. The hosts were just the sixth seed out of the eight schools gathered for the tournament that year, but upset St. John's and Georgetown and then topped newcomers Villanova in overtime to win the Big East crown.
The conference tournament moved to the Hartford Civic Center in March 1982, but that year's hosts -- UConn -- were defeated in the opening round by St. John's. Top-seeded Villanova, which had the best regular-season conference record, reached the tournament final for a second straight year but lost out to Georgetown, which advanced all the way to the NCAA tournament final after winning the Big East tournament.
Pittsburgh joined the Big East for the 1982-83 season, when Madison Square Garden in New York City played host to the conference tournament for the first time. An opening-round game -- with the eighth and ninth seeds squaring off to determine which team would face the top seed in the quarterfinals -- was added to the tournament schedule that year to accommmodate the additional conference team. Chris Mullin and his St. John's teammates capitalized on the hometown advantage to win the New York City school its first Big East title after topping Boston College in the final.
The slightly revised tournament setup remained intact through the 1991 competition (after which Miami joined the Big East), as Georgetown claimed four more Big East tourney trophies from 1984 through 1989. Patrick Ewing and the Hoyas capped a thrilling 1984 conference tournament by defeating Syracuse and its young star Dwayne "Pearl" Washington in overtime in the final. Ewing earned a second straight tournament MVP award the following year, when Georgetown became the first team to repeat as Big East tournament champion.
Washington returned to lead Syracuse to the Big East tournament final in 1986, but his last-second shot was blocked by St. John's star Walter Berry to seal a one-point victory for the Red Storm. That marked the first of four straight appearances in the tournament final for the Orangemen, who would win just one trophy during that stretch while seeing Georgetown the victor again in 1987 and 1989.
Seton Hall and UConn were the only schools with multiple Big East conference titles during the 1990s, a decade that saw three more schools -- Notre Dame, West Virginia and Rutgers -- join the conference. Seton Hall won two of three Big East tournaments between 1991 and 1993, with guard Terry Dehere leading the Pirates to a 103-70 win over Syracuse in 1993 (the biggest winning margin in the tournament's history).
UConn had captured its first-ever tournament title in 1990 and went on to lift the trophy again in 1996, when Ray Allen's running floater finished off a Huskies comeback over Allen Iverson and Georgetown. UConn ended the decade with back-to-back tournament wins in 1998 and 1999, the latter leading to a national championship title for the Huskies.
From 1996 through the 2003, the conference experimented with a setup of two divisions (of six or seven teams) during the regular season before seeds were set up for the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. The top three seeds earned byes into the quarterfinals from 1996 through 2000, when all 13 teams competed for the tournament title. Virginia Tech became the Big East's 14th team prior to the 2000-01 season, when East and West divisions were established for the league's basketball setup. That marked the first time that some conference teams were left out of the Big East tournament, as the seventh team in each division's final regular-season standings (Rutgers and Virginia Tech) remained home while 12 member schools competed for the crown. Boston College, one of four teams receiving opening-round byes in the new tournament format, cruised to the conference championship by winning all three of its games by double-digit margins. Guard Troy Bell was named tournament MVP as the Eagles captured a second conference title.
Pittsburgh and UConn opposed each other in the tournament final the next three years, with the Huskies winning two of the championship tilts, including a double-overtime victory in the 2002 final. Following UConn's 2004 championship, Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, followed a year later by Boston College. Yet with five new schools joining the league for the 2005-06 season, the Big East had become a 16-team basketball conference.
Two of the new additions -- DePaul and South Florida -- finished among the four teams at the bottom of the regular-season standings (which had reverted back from two divisions to one single grouping), and missed the Big East tournament. Only one of the top four seeds that received opening-round byes won its quarterfinal game, while ninth-seeded Syracuse proved to be the story of the 2006 tournament. The Orange were two points down with seconds remaining in the opening round against Cincinnati before guard Gerry McNamara hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the victory. Syracuse then needed another McNamara 3-pointer to send its quarterfinal game into overtime before advancing past UConn. After another last-second, one-point win (over Georgetown) in the semifinals, Syracuse outlasted Pittsburgh in the final to become the first team in Big East tournament history to win four tourney games to claim the title.
The 12-team format for the conference tournament continued for the 2007 and 2008 editions, when Georgetown and Pittsburgh faced each other in consecutive finals, each team winning once. Pitt's championship in 2008 marked the end of an eight-year period when the Panthers advanced to seven Big East Tournament finals yet had won the trophy just twice.
Changes for the 2008-09 Big East season meant that all 16 teams would appear in the conference tournament at the Garden -- with the league's top four seeds (based on final regular-season records) earning byes throught the first two rounds of play, and teams seeded 5 through 8 given a bye in the opening round, when the teams that finished 9 though 16 began play. Syracuse again played a spoiler role, as the sixth-seeded Orange upset UConn 127-117 in six overtimes in the quarterfinals, the second-longest game in NCAA Division I history. Syracuse's amazing victory took 3 hours, 46 minutes to complete and came without having the lead in any of the first five overtimes. Jim Boeheim's team then won another overtime game the following night to reach the final, before being defeated in the tournament championship game by Louisville as the Cardinals claimed a first-ever Big East tournament crown.
The new format continued to provide upsets in the 2010 tournament, as only one of the four teams receiving double-byes won its quarterfinal game. That was West Virginia, which needed a De'Sean Butler buzzer-beater to reach the semifinals. Bob Huggins' Mountaineers then won two more close contests -- beating Georgetown 60-58 in the final on a Butler basket with four seconds remaining -- to give West Virginia its first-ever Big East conference title.
In 2011, Connecticut became the first team to win five games in five days to take the Big East Tournament championship. The Huskies matched Georgetown with their seventh tournament title, the most among any current or former Big East school. Connecticut also went on to win the NCAA Tournament in 2011. Through 2011, 11 different Big East schools have won at least one conference tournament championship, including former Big East member Boston College. Among current Big East members, Notre Dame and Rutgers have been in the conference the longest without winning a title.
Big East Tournament Year-by-Year Results
|2013||Louisville||78-61||Syracuse||Peyton Siva, LOU||Madison Square Garden|
|2012||Louisville||50-44||Cincinnati||Peyton Siva, LOU||Madison Square Garden|
|2011||Connecticut||69-66||Louisville||Kemba Walker, CONN||Madison Square Garden|
|2010||West Virginia||60-58||Georgetown||Da'Sean Butler, WVU||Madison Square Garden|
|2009||Louisville||76-66||Syracuse||Jonny Flynn, SYR||Madison Square Garden|
|2008||Pittsburgh||74-65||Georgetown||Sam Young, Pitt||Madison Square Garden|
|2007||Georgetown||65-42||Pittsburgh||Jeff Green, GTWN||Madison Square Garden|
|2006||Syracuse||65-61||Pittsburgh||Gerry McNamara, SYR||Madison Square Garden|
|2005||Syracuse||68-59||West Virginia||Hakim Warrick, SYR||Madison Square Garden|
|2004||Connecticut||61-58||Pittsburgh||Ben Gordon, UConn||Madison Square Garden|
|2003||Pittsburgh||74-56||Connecticut||Julius Page, Pitt||Madison Square Garden|
|2002||Connecticut||74-65 (2 OT)||Pittsburgh||Caron Butler, UConn||Madison Square Garden|
|2001||Boston College||79-57||Pittsburgh||Troy Bell, BC||Madison Square Garden|
|2000||St. John's||80-70||Connecticut||Bootsy Thornton, SJU||Madison Square Garden|
|1999||Connecticut||82-63||St. John's||Kevin Freeman, UConn||Madison Square Garden|
|1998||Connecticut||69-64||Syracuse||Khalid El-Amin, UConn||Madison Square Garden|
|1997||Boston College||70-58||Villanova||Scoonie Penn, BC||Madison Square Garden|
|1996||Connecticut||75-74||Georgetown||Victor Page, GTWN||Madison Square Garden|
|1995||Villanova||94-78||Connecticut||Kerry Kittles, NOVA||Madison Square Garden|
|1994||Providence||74-64||Georgetown||Michael Smith, PROV||Madison Square Garden|
|1993||Seton Hall||103-70||Syracuse||Terry Dehere, HALL||Madison Square Garden|
|1992||Syracuse||56-54||Georgetown||Alonzo Mourning, GTWN||Madison Square Garden|
|1991||Seton Hall||74-62||Georgetown||Oliver Taylor, HALL||Madison Square Garden|
|1990||Connecticut||78-65||Syracuse||Chris Smith, UConn||Madison Square Garden|
|1989||Georgetown||88-79||Syracuse||Charles Smith, GTWN||Madison Square Garden|
|1988||Syracuse||85-68||Villanova||Sherman Douglas, SYR||Madison Square Garden|
|1987||Georgetown||69-59||Syracuse||Reggie Williams, GTWN||Madison Square Garden|
|1986||St. John's||70-69||Syracuse||Dwayne Washington, SYR||Madison Square Garden|
|1985||Georgetown||92-80||St. John's||Patrick Ewing, GTWN||Madison Square Garden|
|1984||Georgetown||82-71 (OT)||Syracuse||Patrick Ewing, GTWN||Madison Square Garden|
|1983||St. John's||85-77||Boston College||Chris Mullin, SJU||Madison Square Garden|
|1982||Georgetown||72-54||Villanova||Eric Floyd, GTWN||Hartford Civic Center|
|1981||Syracuse||83-80 (OT)||Villanova||Leo Rautins, SYR||Carrier Dome|
|1980||Georgetown||87-81||Syracuse||Craig Shelton, GTWN||Providence Civic Center|
2013 BIG EAST TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
|1||Seton Hall 46, South Florida 42||Recap|
|2||Rutgers 76, DePaul 57||Recap|
|3||Cincinnati 61, Providence 44||Recap|
|4||Syracuse 75, Seton Hall 63||Recap|
|5||Villanova 66, St. John's 53||Recap|
|6||Notre Dame 69, Rutgers 61||Recap|
|7||Georgetown 62, Cincinnati 43||Recap|
|8||Syracuse 63, Pittsburgh 59||Recap|
|9||Louisville 74, Villanova 55||Recap|
|10||Notre Dame 73, Marquette 65||Recap|
|11||Syracuse 58, Georgetown 55 (OT)||Recap|
|12||Louisville 69, Notre Dame 57||Recap|
|13||Louisville 78, Syracuse 61||Recap|
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