Big East Tournament 2017: 35 Years at Madison Square Garden…and Counting

No offense to the Providence Civic Center (now the Dunkin’ Donuts Center), the Carrier Dome or the Hartford Civic Center (now the XL Center) but the best Big East Tournaments have happened at Madison Square Garden. This is the 35th straight season the basketball-focused conference has had their postseason tournament at MSG after rotating between the three aforementioned buildings in the league’s first three year of existence. The Big East Tournament being played at the Garden is a foundational part of the league’s history. Dave Gavitt, the Big East’s father and former Providence coach and Athletic Director, had a way of being ahead of his time. A great example is his insistence that the newly formed Big East play it’s conference tournament in NYC, a story relayed by former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese to Brendan McGair this week.

The documentaries rumors of the Big East’s demise after realignment in 2013 were greatly overplayed, to paraphrase Mark Twain. The league got 4 teams into the NCAA Tournament in 2014, 5 teams into the field of 68 in 2015 and 6 teams in 2016, not to mention one of their schools, Villanova, winning the whole damn thing last April. Many bracketologists have as many as seven Big East schools in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, which would tie a record for highest percentage of one league with at least 10 teams at 70%. The Big 12 got 7 of their 10 teams into the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

All of the madness begins this week at MSG where all ten teams from the Big East will be in action beginning with an old-school matchup between St. John’s and Georgetown in the 8/9 game at 7pm ET on FS1. Parity is a word that’s been used plenty to describe the 2016-17 NCAA basketball season. While that may end up being an accurate descriptor with seemingly no clear-cut top teams grabbing the bull by the horns during the regular season, the tournament taking place this week at 4 Penn Plaza should feature some wild games and most likely a few upsets on the way to an exciting final on FOX at 5:30pm ET on Saturday.

There are no guarantees that the Big East Tournament will be played at MSG beyond the 2026 event, but ticket sales have certainly not been hurt by the league’s new configuration. According to TicketIQ.com, a website that tracks 90% of the secondary market, the average asking price for tickets on the secondary market across all sessions of the 2017 Big East Tournament is $226 and that includes Wednesday night when tickets to the opening session can be had for as little as $4 a seat. Here are the prior five years average asking prices:

  • 2016: $201 Average Price
  • 2015: $228 Average Price
  • 2014: $209 Average Price
  • 2013: $211 Average Price
  • 2012: $250 Average Price
  • 2011: $230 Average Price

The Friday semifinals session is currently the most expensive ticket, averaging $269 per ticket. It would take $60 just to get in the door as of this posting. That could change should there be a big upset on Thursday, namely if Villanova loses to either Xavier or DePaul. Though if St. John’s is the team doing that particular upsetting then the Garden would be rocking on Friday night.

Whether you are a believer in the Big East or not, there’s no denying that this week at Madison Square Garden is one of the most special weeks of the college basketball year. When the ball gets thrown up on Wednesday night you’ll quickly forget that neither the Red Storm nor the Hoyas have any postseason hopes. It will be a Big East battle, just like the rest of the games even if the jerseys no longer read “Syracuse” or “Connecticut”. Get ready, New York City. The Big East Tournament is upon us.

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