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March 13, 2019

The Big East And The Garden — Great Moments Past And Future

The Big East Tournament is back at Madison Square Garden for a 37th consecutive year. Over the next few days, The Official MSG Blog — with stories and pictures — will take you back in time to the event’s most compelling moments while highlighting this year’s unfolding drama.

In a flurry of jubilation, Villanova wins the Big East Tournament last year at The Garden. (Photo: Dave Saffran/MSG Photos)

The Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament, unfolding this week at Madison Square Garden, is more than just a sports happening. For thousands flocking from points near and distant, it is a pilgrimage, a chance to experience one of college basketball’s oldest rituals in a storied setting.

Beginning Wednesday night and culminating Saturday night, Chase Square and The Garden concourses will be swelled with unfamiliar colors, from Marquette blue and gold to St John’s red and white, with fans traveling from as far west as Omaha, Nebraska for Creighton, or heading over the Hudson River to root on Seton Hall. And the Villanova Wildcats, seeking their third straight Big East title, will surely be represented in force.

It has been 36 years since Chris Mullin — then a St. John’s player and now its coach — was named MVP in the first Big East Tournament held at Madison Square Garden. The event has remained at The Garden ever since, making it the longest-running postseason championship held at the same location in college basketball. With MSG and the Big East recently announcing an extension of their agreement, the streak will go on at least through 2028.

One memorable moment has followed another. Patrick Ewing first captured New York as a Georgetown Hoya, winning the Big East championship twice at The Garden. As college players, John Wallace and Charles Smith shone in the tournament, giving fans a peek into the future. Wallace became a Knicks’ first round draft pick, and Charles Smith ended up playing for the Knicks, as well. And it has been ten years since one of the most stirring games in college basketball history, when the Syracuse Orange defeated the Connecticut Huskies in a mere six overtimes.

Here then, through pictures and remembrances, we look back at some of the great moments the Big East Tournament has produced and the players who put their stamp on the games.

Make That Two In a Row

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Villanova's 76-66 victory over the Providence Friars in last year's championship game made the Wildcats the fourth team in Big East history to win consecutive titles. They have the chance this year to become the first to three-peat. (Photo: Dave Saffran/MSG Photos)

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