Posted by Tony Caridi on Thursday, March 4, 2010
Let’s begin with an open disclosure. I’m a Big East Tournament junkie. It borders on an addiction; I don’t just like it - I love it. If I could only attend one tournament each year, I would pick the Big East over the NCAA tournament and it’s not even close.
Here are some reasons why:
1.) The Big East tournament is vibrant; it’s a happening which happens to take place inside the world’s most famous arena. The NCAA tournament is a sterile, cold event run by the same people that used to tell the teacher on you in elementary school.
2.) At the Big East tournament, post-game press conferences are passion plays that have included chair throwing, expletive laden diatribes, and comedy that could rival any of the late night shows.
NCAA press conferences, on the other hand, are orchestrated dog and pony events moderated by guys who are sworn to refer to the players as “student athletes.” A microphone is passed among media members who must identify themselves, their employer, and the final four digits of their social security number.
At the Big East tournament questions are yelled out by guys named Lenny, Bobby, and Hoops.
||The Madison Square Garden marquee showing West Virginia's game against Syracuse for the 2005 Big East championship.
Kevin Kinder/Blue & Gold News photo
3.) Try to smuggle a bottle of water on to press row in the NCAA tournament and you’ll be cuffed and stuffed as if you had just jumped over the fence and on to the White House lawn. You will drink your water in the NCAA tournament from a cup with the sponsors name on it, or you will not drink at all. Forget about the fact that when a player - I mean student-athlete - crashes into the press table exploding your open glass of water and damages thousands of dollars of broadcast equipment it’s OK … the sponsor’s cup got great product placement. Yes, that did happen to us.
At the Big East tournament you drink what you want in a bottle, in a can, out of a wine skin, whatever.
4.) When the day is over at the NCAA tournament you wait in line to board a media shuttle bus … and you could wait and wait and wait.
At the Big East tournament you walk outside into the collective heartbeat of one of the world’s great cities - a cacophony of lights, life, and food await you.
You get my point. The Big East tournament wins in a collective slam dunk. The NCAA tournament crowns a champion, but the Big East tournament celebrates the game of college basketball in the city that helped popularize the sport so many years ago.
If not this year, then sometime in the near future, get to New York City to take part in the Big East tournament. You’ll have the time of your life.