Top 5 NCAA Big East Tourney Games
As we near the end of the 2011 college basketball season, that can only mean one thing.
That's right, conference tournament games.
And where better to start our look at the all time top 5 conference tournament games, than in the Big East.
The winner of this annual dogfight receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.
Since 1983, the tournament has been held in Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, making it the longest running conference tournament at any one site in all of college basketball.
Here we take a look at five of the most memorable games in Big East Tournament history.
5.Connecticut vs. Pittsburgh, 2002, Big East Championship Game--The stage was set as the Big East's top two seeded teams prepared to do battle. Living up to its inflated billing, the two school's waged war for more than 50 minutes, until tournament MVP Caron Butler's turnaround jumper with just under two minutes left in the second overtime broke the Panthers' backs, falling to the Huskies 74-65 in the third-longest title game in league history. Ahead by two points with two seconds left on the shot clock in the second OT, Taliek Brown received the ball on an inbounds pass and lofted a 30-foot prayer that somehow tickled the twine, putting UConn up 69–64, and they never looked back. Although Butler was the MVP it was Brown's signature shot that will be most remembered in this one.
4. Georgetown vs. Syracuse, 1984, Big East Championship Game--What top 5 list would be complete without Patrick Ewing? And Ewing's play in the 1984 Big East tournament was nearly perfect, and he saved his best for last. The game was physical, and with just under four minutes left to play, Georgetown’s Michael Graham threw Syracuse’s Andre Hawkins to the court and used his left hand to swing at him. The punch missed, but referee, Dick Paparo, still signaled for his ejection and foul. But then, the unthinkable happened, and Paparo changed his mind and the Orange, who were up 57-54, lost out on the chance to increase their lead with what should have been two free throw attempts. That one act changed destiny, and Georgetown took advantage, sending the game into OT. From there it was all Ewing who led the Hoyas to an 82-71 victory with 27 points and 16 rebounds, in a place that he would eventually call home for 15 seasons.
3. Providence vs. Connecticut, 1994, Big East Semifinals--First played in 1980 in Providence, R.I., with the conference's original seven teams competing, it would seem fitting to include Providence in our countdown. That year the Friars had the daunting task of facing the No. 1 seed UConn who was equipped with an arsenal of players including Ray Allen, Donyell Marshall, Kevin Ollie and Travis Knight. However, in a epic tale of David vs. Goliath, Providence's conqueror would be Rob Phelps, who came off the bench and ignited a rally behind 23 points en route to a 69-67 win. Providence went on to win the conference tournament that year.
2.Connecticutvs. Louisville,2011, Big East Championship -- In 2011, Connecticut, led by Kemba Walker, became the first and only team in the Big East Tournament to ever win 5 games in a row in 5 days to win the championship. Led by tournament MVP Walker who scored 19 points, the Huskies downed No. 14 Louisville 69-66. It was UConn's seventh conference title, tying Georgetown for the most in Big East history. With neither team leading by more than four points over the final 8 minutes, the sellout crowd of 19,375 at Madison Square Garden seemed to be just waiting for Walker to do something special. And he delivered, making a great drop pass to Jeremy Lamb for a basket that gave the Huskies the lead for good at 65-64 with 33 seconds left.