NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Jae Crowder #32 of the Marquette Golden Eagles drives to the basket against Marshon Brooks #2 and Bilal Dixon #42 of the Providence Friars during the first round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Big East Tournament 2011: What We Learned From Day One

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Big East Tournament 2011: What We Learned From Day One

The first round of the 2011 Big East Conference Tournament was completed around 11:45 p.m Tuesday night as the No. 11-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles easily defeated the No. 14 Providence Friars, 87-66. Though, the night cap was a blow out, games No. 2 and 3 were outstanding as No. 15 USF upset No. 10 Villanova and Rutgers downed New Jersey rival Seton Hall, 76-70, in overtime — UConn easily defeated DePaul, 97-71, in game one.

The game recaps just tell the stories of Tuesday, but there’s a lot that Big East basketball fans learned. Here’s a recap of the lessons:

Lesson 1: In a scrappy game, never bet against head coach Mike Rice and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

A couple weeks ago, Rutgers gave the Syracuse Orange a run for their money, but came up just short in overtime loss, 84-80. On Tuesday, Rutgers pulled out a dramatic OT victory, despite giving up a buzzer-beating, game-tying 3-pointer to Seton Hall senior forward Jeremy Hazell. Hazell, who had a bitter-sweet ending to his career at SHU, just couldn’t spark the Pirates to a come-from-behind win. Why? Because Rice knows how to coach in tight games. His players are prepared to perform above their talent level and now, the Scarlet Knights are the best college hoops team in the state of New Jersey.

Lesson 2: Villanova may not be a NCAA Tournament team.

Losers of five straight and seven of their last nine games, the Wildcats are reeling. And, that’s a understatement. It was a really tough day to be a Villanova basketball fan as the USF, which had never won a Big East Tournament game or beat ‘Nova, came-from-behind in the final minutes to advance to the second round. It truly was one of the worst collapses I’ve ever watched. As much as I love senior guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, do they really deserve to be in the tournament after a performance like that? (Stokes scored 16 points in the first half, but none in the second. Fisher netted just 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting.)

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Big East Tournament 2011 Final Score: Marquette Cruises Past Providence, 87-66

Senior guard Jimmy Butler netted 19 points, collected 11 rebounds and dished out eight assists to guide No. 11-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles past No. 14 Providence Friars, 87-66, in a first-round Big East Conference Tournament contest at Madison Square Garden. The Golden Eagles (19-13) advance to play No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers, the defending Big East Tournament champions, in the second round Wednesday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.

Junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom scored a team-best 23 points and 5 rebounds for Marquette, which snapped a two-game losing streak and more than likely removed themselves from the NCAA Tournament bubble. Junior forward Jae Crowder added 10 points.

Providence (15-17), which trailed 46-33 at halftime, got within 10 points in the first two minutes of the second half, but could never get closer. Sophomore guard Vincent Council paced Providence with 21 points. Big East leading scorer Marshon Brooks netted 20 points in his final collegiate game.

The 2011 Big East Tournament schedule features four more games on Wednesday:

Noon (ESPN2): No. 8 Georgetown Hoyas vs. No. 9 Connecticut Huskies; 2 p.m. (ESPN2): No. 5 St. John's vs. No. 14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights; 7 p.m. (ESPN2): No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 15 South Florida Bulls; 9 p.m. (ESPN2): No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles (9 p.m. on ESPN2).




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Marquette 46, Providence 33 Halftime Score: Jimmy Bulter's 12 Points Helps Golden Eagles Earn Lead

Senior guard Jimmy Butler has a team-best 12 points for No. 11-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles, who lead the No. 14 Providence Friars, 46-33, at halftime of a first-round Big East Conference Tournament contest at Madison Square Garden. The winner advances to play No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers in the second round Wednesday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. Marquette needs a victory to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom has chipped in with 10 points for Marquette, which led 43-20 with 2:18 to go int he first half. However, the Friar, led by three 3-pointers by sophomore guard Vincent Council, made a late rally to trim the disadvantage to 13 points heading into the locker room.

Big East leading scorer, senior guard Marshon Brooks, has just 10 points for Providence, which has lost seven of its last eight games.

Statistically, Marquette shot 20-of-45 (44.4-percent) from the floor, 7-of-17 (41.2) from behind the 3-point arc. Providence finished 11 for 36 (30.6) on field goals and 7 for 17 (41.2) on 3-pointers. Marquette leads in rebounds, 21-16. The Golden Eagles have 12 assists to the Friars five.

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Big East Tournament 2011 Scores and Reaction: Villanova Basketball Stunned By USF

I don’t think the last-minute 70-69 victory that No. 15-seeded South Florida Bulls’ pulled out Tuesday night against No. 10 Villanova Wildcats will jump start the USF basketball program. However, at least for one night the ones that live and breathe South Florida hoops can celebrate like they’ve won the NCAA Tournament title.

It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it may have been slightly handed to USF (who ’Nova’s sophmore guard Maalik Wayns was throwing to on an inbound pass with just under 30 seconds to go we will never know), but its the program’s first ever Big East Tournament victory. And, in this league you take what you can get.

Until Tuesday night, USF had never beaten ‘Nova, but that streak ended when junior guard Anthony Crater went baseline-to-baseline and netted the game-winning, 2-point layup with seven seconds to go. Nobody stormed the court (the USF fans were about 1,500 miles away reading up on Spring football practice) and there wasn’t any, “No one believed in us” postgame cliches (trust me, I don’t think the Bulls believed in themselves after being down 16-points at halftime). However, it was a thrilling victory that those player will never forget and neither will Villanova fans.

Speaking of ‘Nova fans. Wow. What an amazing, atrocious collapse by the Wildcats, who now have lost five straight games and seven of their last nine (it’s getting to the point where ‘Nova will start feeling guilty for taking a mid-major’s NCAA at-large bid).

I really don’t know who ‘Nova nation should be mad at: Head coach Jay Wright for calling off the dogs with 18 minutes to go in the game? Senior guard Corey Stokes who failed to score in the second half? Or just your bad luck. Whatever you choose, please remember that you’ll need that antique lamp for a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament.

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USF 70, Villanova 69 Final Score: Bulls Stun Wildcats In Final-Second Thriller

Junior guard Anthony Crater didn't score many points (six), or a lot of good decisions (four turnovers), but when the USF Bulls needed a playmaker Tuesday night he was just that. Crater scored the game-winning 2-point bucket with seven seconds remaining to help No. 15 South Florida Bulls upset No. 10 Villanova Wildcats, 70-69, in a first-round Big East conference contest at Madison Square Garden. The Bulls, who earned their first victory in the Big East Tournament and against Villanova (21-11), advance to play in the second round against No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

USF (10-22) trailed 49-33 at halftime, but chipped away at the 16-point deficit and pulled within two points, 57-55, with 8:30 remaining. The Bulls stayed close and got within one point, 63-62, with 3:33 to go after junior forward Augustus Gilchrist converted a 3-point play.

From there, 'Nova just couldn't shake USF and the Bulls took a 68-67 lead with 22 second to go after Crater stole an inbound pass from 'Nova's sophomore guard Maalik Wayns and converted a layup. The Wildcats reclaimed the lead, 69-68, after Wayns made two free throw with 12 seconds remaining, but Crater went end-to-end and made a slashing layup to end the Bulls' Big East postseason troubles.

Sophomore guard Shaun Noriega, who tallied a team-best 22 points, made five first-half 3-pointers for USF, which opened the contest with a 16-8 advantage. The Wildcats responded by outscoring USF 28-7 in the remaining nine-plus minutes of the first half to take the sizable lead at halftime.

Senior guard Corey Stokes has scored 16 first-half points in the first half, but went scoreless in the second. Wayns netted a game-best 24 points, while senior guard Corey Fisher added 15 points. The Wildcats have lost five straight games and seven of their last nine.

Statistically, Villanova shot 20-of-45 (44.4-percent) from the floor, 7-of-17 (41.2) from behind the 3-point arc. USF finished 21 for 47 (44.7) on field goals and 7 for 18 (38.9) on 3-pointers. USF won the rebound margin, 26-21.

The 2011 Big East Tournament schedule features No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles against No. 14 Providence Friars at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. Wednesday's second-round schedule looks like this:

Noon (ESPN2): No. 8 Georgetown Hoyas vs. No. 9 Connecticut Huskies; 2 p.m. (ESPN2): No. 5 St. John's vs. No. 14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights; 7 p.m. (ESPN2): No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 15 South Florida Bulls; 9 p.m. (ESPN2): No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Marquette/Providence winner (9 p.m. on ESPN2).




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Villanova 49, USF 33 Halftime Score: Wildcats Use Hot Shooting To Take Lead

Senior guard Corey Stokes has scored a game-best 16 points off the bench to help the No. 10-seeded Villanova Wildcats take a 49-33 halftime advantage over No. 15 South Florida Bulls in a first-round Big East Conference Tournament contest at Madison Square Garden. The winner advances to play in the second round against No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

Sophomore guard Shaun Noriega used five 3-pointers to score a team-best 16 points for USF, which opened the game with a 16-8 lead. The Wildcats rallied behind Stokes who netted eight of Nova's next 18 points, including making three free throws that tied the contest at 26-26 with 9:12 to go. From there, Villanova outscored USF 23-7 to take a 16-point margin into the locker room.

Sophomore guard Maalik Wayns chipped in with 12 points for 'Nova, while USF junior forward Augustus Gilchrist tallied 7 points.

Statistically, Villanova shot 16-of-27 (59.3-percent) from the floor, 7-of-12 (58.3) from behind the 3-point arc and 10 for 10 at the free-throw line. USF finished the half 10 for 24 (41.7) on field goals and 5 for 12 (41.7) on 3-pointers. 'Nova leads in the rebound margin, 12-9.

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