|Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Big East Conference and The Madison Square Garden Company announced an extension through 2028 of their agreement to hold the Big East Tournament at The Garden.
The agreement also ensures that the Tournament will be staged on its traditional dates at the close of college basketball’s regular season.
The Big East and Madison Square Garden have been partners since the Tournament was first played at the iconic venue in 1983. The Big East Tournament is the longest-running postseason championship at the same location in college basketball.
“Our new agreement with Madison Square Garden means that Big East schools, players and supporters will have the privilege of playing our conference tournament at the ‘Mecca of College Basketball’ without interruption for another decade,” said Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman. “The Big East Tournament at MSG has long been synonymous with tradition, rivalries and heart-stopping moments, and we are very grateful to Jim Dolan, Andy Lustgarten and Joel Fisher for their support of one of the most enduring alliances in the sports world.”
“Madison Square Garden and the Big East Conference has been the best marriage in college basketball for 36 years," said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Marquee Events. "The Big East Tournament has been a pillar event at The Garden and has given generations of basketball fans unforgettable memories. We would like to thank the conference and member schools for their long-term commitment to Madison Square Garden and look forward to providing fans with exciting basketball for years to come."
The 2019 Big East Tournament will be played March 13-16. This comes on the heels of the conference reaching its highest tournament attendance levels in 2018, since the league reconfigured in 2013-14, with three of the five sessions selling out.
The action on the floor typified Big East Tournament play over the years, with Villanova defeating Providence 76-66 in overtime in the championship game in front of a boisterous sellout crowd. Three weeks later, Villanova went on to win its second NCAA national title in three years.
One of college basketball’s most prestigious events, the Big East Tournament has been a staple of the New York City sports scene for decades. The Big East and Madison Square Garden signed their first agreement to bring the Tournament to The Garden on October 7, 1981. St. John’s won the first Big East Tournament at MSG in 1983, with Chris Mullin, the Johnnies’ current head coach, named Most Valuable Player.
The move to Madison Square Garden helped accelerate the Big East’s rapid ascent on the national scene, enabling the league to showcase highly-ranked teams with All-American players who now had the opportunity to play in the premier building in the nation’s largest media market.
The Big East tradition of basketball competition at the highest level has continued with the conference’s current 10-school alignment. Since reconfiguration in 2013-14, Big East schools have earned 28 NCAA Tournament bids, with more than half of the league on average qualifying for the Big Dance in each of the past five seasons.
Two Big East players, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, were named consensus national players of the year in 2014 and 2018, respectively. Last year, Villanova and Xavier were awarded NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds, with four other squads receiving invitations.