NEW YORK — Once the college basketball conference tournaments hit, it doesnt take long for the atmosphere and the games to reflect the excitement and unpredictable electricity of March Madness.
Providence was a fifth seed entering this year’s Big East Tournament and riding that proverbial bubble that can either burst or fly away into NCAA Tournament bliss. It took three riveting overtime contests for Providence to lose a game in the 2018 conference tourney as they bodied Creighton, upset Xavier and then pushed Villanova to the limit before losing in the finals 76-66 on Friday night in front of a sellout Madison Square Garden crowd of 19,812 fans.
BACK 2 BACK @BIGEASTMBB Champs!
With capacity crowds in three of the five tournament sessions, the BIG EAST enjoyed its highest tournament attendance figures in its five years of the current 10-team alignment.
Seems as if people are warming up to the new Big East. It has taken fans of the ’80s glory days some time to accept the fact that iconic and flagship programs such as Syracuse have abandoned the conference in search of football riches elsewhere.
But Villanova, one of the original Big East squads, is leading the resurgence.
Providence is another original Big East squad riding the current conference high as they are headed to their fifth straight NCAA Tournament. The Friars had made only six tourney appearances from 1988 to 2013 since its Final Four run in 1987.
It was not only Villanovas third Big East title in four years, but the championship game was another coming out party for guard Jalen Brunson, the Big East Player of the year, who displayed just how multifaceted and lit his game is and why he was named Sporting News College Basketball Player of the Year three days ago.
Not a bad way to kick your week off in New York. Nova star Jalen Brunson wins Big East Player of the Year.
The Sporting News honor is one of several POY awards in college, as it dates back to DePauls George Mikan in 1945, a revolutionary player in his day. And now Brunson, who some say is one of the most complete guards in the past decade, is the latest recipient of the prestigious award. Another accolade to take with him to the next level.
National Player of the Year candidate, Villanova Junior Jalen Brunson looks to lead the Wildcats back to a National Championship. Here are some of the highlights from early in the 2017-18 Season.
On the season, Brunson teamed with Mikal Bridges to give Villanova a backcourt as potent as Gucci Man and 21 Savage on a trap beat.
Brunson averaged 19 points and 4.8 assists while shooting .405 on his three-point attempts. Hes scored in double figures in 40 straight games for Nova, but he is saving his best for last, as he scored a career high 31 points in The Big East Championship game.
Onlyone other player has scored more in the conference tourney title game. In 1983, Boston Colleges John Garris tallied 32 points to set the mark. Nova needed everyone of Brunson’s buckets to hold off a desperate, pesky and momentum-carrying Providence squad.
Post-game press conference with @NovaMBB coach Jay Wright, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges…
Together, the deadly duo of Brunson and Beridges helped close the game out down the stretch for Nova. Overall, Brunson hit four 3’s and made 12 of his 23 overall shots from the floor, while Bridges contributed to Novas early 10-point lead by scoring 25 points, and then banged down two back-breaking 3-pointers in overtime, effective complementary death blows to Brunsons magnificence.
In 2016, an undervalued guard named Josh Hart led Villanova to the promised land. Brunson has the opportunity to duplicate that success as the Wildcats will probably be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and one of the overall favorites to win The Big Dance.
When guards the caliber of Brunson get hot around conference tournament time and it carries into the field of 68, expect their teams to go deep into the March Madness bracket. Success in the NCAA Tournament is all about superstar play, consistent shots and clutch deliveries by prime time players.
Brunson is exactly that.
Villanova needed Overtime to put the Friars away to become 2018 Big East Champions. SUBSCRIBE to get the latest FOX Sports content: https://www.youtube.com/foxsports?sub_confirmation=1 Watch the latest popular FOX Sports clips: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSoN6Th-EepNkAbtoXFyKdMPd8lvG95wj NFL coverage from FOX Sports: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSoN6Th-EepMMrvxB23QShmbLMeMN52M- College Football coverage from FOX Sports: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSoN6Th-EepNWOI2vdFxCYax5pBiYgoJc UFC on FOX’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/ufconfox FOX Soccer’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/Foxsoccer About FOX Sports: With exclusive highlights, original programming, and behind the scenes footage, FOX Sports’ YouTube channel provides the sports content that fans are hungry for.
Coach Jay Wright continues to rewrite the Villanova record books, leading the program to its fourth straight 30-win season. He says the game and atmosphere at MSG reminded him of a throwback Big East throwdown.
“The tough physical play,” Wright said in the postgame press conference. “You don’t see that as much in college basketball. Just the crazy plays. Just guys battling, great athletes. Coaches that know each other really well. It was old-school Big East and — old-school Big East in 2018.”
With a floor general like Brunson, who legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson described as the total package – an old school guard with new school aspects to his game – Nova is riding high as they enter the NCAA Tournament with two guards who are prime time performers and capable of taking over a game at any moment.