Cam Whitmore in action for the Villanova Men’s Basketball Team. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495Sports
The most wonderful time of year is officially here! The BIG EAST Tournament begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City with three opening round matchups. This is the 40th anniversary of the first Big East Tournament at The Garden in 1983, and the Big East has come back here every year since then. This tournament is usually a magical event that has provided some of the most iconic moments in the history of the sport, living up to the building’s nickname of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
The event tips off at 3pm with #8 St John’s facing #9 Butler. Next up is #7 Seton Hall facing #10 DePaul at 5:30, then finishing up with #6 Villanova facing #11 Georgetown at 8pm. The top five seeds Marquette, Xavier, Creighton, UConn, and Providence have a bye to the Quarterfinal round Thursday. All tournament games will be broadcast on FS1 except for the Final on Saturday which will be on Fox at 6:30pm.
Wednesday afternoon prior to the start of the games, the Big East gave out individual awards to the top performers in the league.
Scholar Athlete of the year: Jack Nunge, Xavier Forward, Graduate.
Nunge had a 3.97 GPA this year in graduate courses and received a $2000 scholarship for future graduate and professional courses.
Freshman of the year: Cam Whitmore, Villanova guard.
Whitmore missed the first seven games of the season with a hand injury but was key to Villanova’s late season surge averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season.
Player of the year: Tyler Kolek, Marquette guard, Junior.
Kolek led the league in assists by a wide margin, averaging 7.9 per game, nearly 50% more than Primo Spears of Georgetown who had 5.2 per game. Kolek also scored 12.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Coach of the Year: Shaka Smart, Marquette.
In his second year at Marquette, Smart led the Golden Eagles to the best season in their Big East history. Prior to the season, Marquette was picked in the coaches poll to finish 9th in the league. Marquette ended up finishing 25-6 overall and 17-3 in the Big East to win their first Big East Regular Season Championship in school history.
Big East Media Award: Bill Raftery, CBS and Fox Sports.
Raf is a legend synonymous with the Big East conference itself as color commentator for the league’s TV partners for over 40 years. Prior to broadcasting, Raf was the coach at Seton Hall from 1970-81 and coached in the first ever Big East game in 1979. This is Raf’s second Big East Media award after winning the first ever award back in 1996.
JD’s tournament picks:
#8 St. John’s over #9 Butler
#7 Seton Hall over #10 DePaul
#6 Villanova over #11 Georgetown
#1 Marquette over St. John’s
#4 UConn over #5 Providence
Seton Hall over #2 Xavier
Villanova over #3 Creighton
UConn over Marquette
Villanova over Seton Hall
UConn over Villanova
For more information on the BIG EAST Conference fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: