While Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving and college football fans followed rivalry games, BIG EAST men’s basketball teams were enjoying great success in November’s early season tournaments.
Six BIG EAST teams won their tournament draws and took home titles against tough fields. Two others finished as runners-up in multi-team bracketed events. And two more conference teams hosted round-robin tournaments and have gone undefeated.
Pittsburgh won the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer at Madison Square Garden. Georgetown was the champion in the Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C. Connecticut was a surprise winner of the EA Sports Maui Invitational in Hawaii as the Huskies knocked off a pair of top-10 teams on their way to the title. Syracuse took the title of the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, N.J. St. John’s bested the field at the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska. And Notre Dame won the Old Spice Classic championship in Orlando, Fla.
West Virginia was the runner-up of the Honda Puerto Rico Shootout in San Juan, falling to Minnesota 74-70 in the championship game. Villanova finished second in the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden, losing to Tennessee 78-68.
The six BIG EAST tournament winners defeated teams from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC in championship games. No other conference won more than two of the early season tournaments in November.
BIG EAST players shined for their teams with many MVP and all-tournament selections.
Pitt defeated Rhode Island and Illinois-Chicago as a regional host of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer at the Petersen Events Center on-campus before moving on to Madison Square Garden. In New York, the Panthers beat Maryland (79-70) and Texas (68-66) to win the title. Guard Ashton Gibbs was named MVP and guard Travon Woodall made the all-tournament team.
Georgetown beat Coastal Carolina and Wofford to advance to the championship game of the Charleston Classic. In the tournament final in front of a partisan Wolfpack crowd, the Hoyas defeated North Carolina State 82-67. Guard Chris Wright was named MVP and guard Jason Clark made the all-tournament team.
Connecticut beat a tough Wichita State team before defeating two top-10 teams to win the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The Huskies stunned No. 2 Michigan State in the semifinals 70-67 and then won the championship game handily over No. 9 Kentucky 84-67. Guard Kemba Walker put on one of the great performances in the history of the Maui Invitational to earn MVP honors. Forward Alex Oriahki was named to the all-tournament team.
Syracuse defeated Detroit and William & Mary as a regional host of the Legends Classic at the Carrier Dome. Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City was the site of the final round, where the Orange beat Michigan (53-50) and Georgia Tech (80-76) to win the Legends Classic championship. Forward Rick Jackson was named MVP and Kris Joseph made the all-tournament team.
St. John’s beat Ball State and Drake on their way to the championship game of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. The Red Storm defeated Arizona State 67-58 to win the tournament title in Anchorage. Forward Justin Brownlee was named the Most Outstanding Player, and seniors Dwight Hardy and D.J. Kennedy made the all-tournament team.
Notre Dame won an overtime game over Georgia followed by a win over California to advance to the finals of the Old Spice Classic. The Fighting Irish came from behind to defeat Wisconsin in the championship game 58-51. Forward Tim Abromaitis garnered MVP honors and forward Carleton Scott was named to the all-tournament team.
West Virginia earned victories over Davidson and Vanderbilt in the Honda Puerto Rico Shootout before falling to Minnesota in the championship game. Guard Casey Mitchell was named to the all-tournament team.
Villanova defeated Marist and Boston University at the Pavilion as a regional host of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. The Wildcats beat UCLA in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden before losing the championship game to Tennessee. Center Mouphtaou Yarou was named to the all-tournament team.
Cincinnati hosted the Global Sports Main Event earning victories over Mount St. Mary’s, Florida A&M, and Savannah State. The final game of the tournament was held at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, where the Bearcats dominated Dayton 68-34. Guard Dion Dixon had a career high 20 points against the Flyers.
Louisville has featured its spectacular new home, the KFY Yum! Center, hosting the Global Sports Shootout. The Cardinals have defeated Jackson State, Chattanooga, and Marshall. Guard Peyton Siva has averaged 12 points in the three tournament games with Florida International remaining.