Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell Has Bitter-Sweet Swan Song

-- SB Nation New York prepares you with a team-by-team preview of the 2011 Big East Tournament -- SB Nation New York's Howard Megdal lets you know which teams will win before the tournament begins. -- Don't miss all of our coverage in our Big East Basketball Tournament 2011 special section.

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Big East Tournament 2011 Scores And Reaction: Rutgers Ends Jeremy Hazell's Career

Well, the storybook ending was being written for Seton Hall’s senior forward Jeremy Hazell. The player who has made the most 3-pointers in the history Big East Conference play received a hand off from junior guard Jordan Theodore, rose up behind the 3-point arc and with a defender in his face and buried a game-tying basket as the buzzer sounded at the end of regulation.

Unfortunately for Seton Hall fans, who have watched Hazell play a stellar four years and overcome adversity, the Pirates couldn’t pull out the victory in overtime. What’s worse is it was New Jersey rivals Rutgers who pulled out the 76-70 first-round victory to advance and play the No. 5-seed St. John’s Red Storm Wednesday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.

It seemed that the Pirates, who were riding a two-game winning streak heading into postseason play, were peaking at the right time and it wasn’t too far fetched that SHU could make a run at the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament invite. Though, it was very unlikely that SHU could win five games in five days in the nation’s toughest conference it wasn’t impossible. Especially, if Hazell could catch fire, which he had numerous times in his four-year Seton Hall career, and junior forward Herb Pope could play at a high level defensively.

Hazell netted a game-best 27 points, but Pope was basically invisible, tallying just six points, four rebounds and fouling out in OT. But that’s how things go in Newark, N.J. It’s nothing new to Pirates fans who have witnessed just two Big East Tournament victories in seven seasons. Again, what’s worse is that Hazell’s SHU campaign was ended by a Rutgers program that looks to be on the rise under first-year head coach Mike Rice. For now, the state of New Jersey belongs to the Scarlet Knights.

As for Hazell’s finale, SB Nation’s South Orange Juice summed it up best:

"Words cannot express what a shame it is that Hazell’s career ends without experiencing an NCAA Tournament. He deserved better. I can’t wait to watch Jeremy in the NBA, when you’ve got that distance and that heart, he’s going to make it. We wish you well, Jeremy."

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Big East Touranment 2011: UConn Basketball Romps DePaul, 97-71

Kemba Walker finished with 26 points, leading No. 21 Connecticut to a 97-71 victory against DePaul in the opening contest of the Big East Tournament.

Alex Oriakhi added 13 points and 19 rebounds for the Huskies (22-9), while Jeremy Lamb had 19 points to help UConn snap a six-game losing streak in the conference tourney.

Connecticut, seeded ninth after a 9-9 conference mark, had not won in this tournament since March 10, 2005 against Georgetown, and will next face the eighth-seeded Hoyas in the second round on Wednesday.

The Huskies’ lead was seven with about nine minutes to play, but they pulled away with a 17-3 run. They shot 60 percent and made 29-of-32 free throws in the blowout win.

Brandon Young scored 20 points to lead DePaul (7-24), which was coming off a 107-59 loss to Syracuse on the road in the regular-season finale.

UConn held a 45-28 lead at the break, but the Blue Demons used a press defense to force turnovers and trim their deficit in the second half. Young scored five consecutive points early in the period before Tony Freeland sank two free throws, which had DePaul within 47-37.

— recap provided by Sports Network

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Big East Basketball Bracketology 2011: Who's Playing For What In The Conference Touranment

The Syracuse basketball program ended Big East Conference regular season play with 107-59 romping of the DePaul Blue Demons on Saturday. The victory was the fifth consecutive for the Orange (25-6, 12-6 Big East) who seem to be playing their best basketball has they enter the postseason, which begins Thursday for SU.

Syracuse enters the Big East Tournament as a No. 4 seed and is a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. However, there's still a lot to play for besides the program's sixth Big East Tournament title. Currently, out of six websites, SU is either earning a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the latest 68-team NCAA Tournament fields, updated Wednesday or Thursday.

According to Bracketology 101 (updated Thursday) and CBSSport.com's Jerry Palm (updated Wednesday), the Orange deserve a No. 2 seed. However, SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean (Thursday), ESPN's Joe Lunardi (Thursday), SI.com's Andy Glockner (Thursday) and FoxSports.com's Jordan Schwartz (Thursday) all predict SU will earn a No. 3 seed. So, a Big East championship or a finals appearance probably will solidify a No. 2 seed come Sunday when CBS announces the 68-team bracket during its selection show.

The St. John's Red Storm (20-10, 12-6) are a unanimous No. 4 seed, but could move up to No. 3 with a finals appearance.

The Pittsburgh Panthers (27-4, 15-3) are a unanimous No. 1 seed and probably wont move from there even with a loss in the quarterfinals. However, Notre Dame Fighting Irish need a win or two to cement their current No. 1 seed, which has been given to them by five different websites -- Lunardi has the Irish at No. 2.

Most Bracketologist have the Big East Conference earning 11 NCAA Tournament berths, but the Marquette Golden Eagles are on the bubble. A first-round loss against the Providence Friars Tuesday would more than likely knock out the Golden Eagles.

Here's the breakdown of the Big East Conference bracketology results to give you an idea of what teams are playing for:

ESPN's Lunardi (11 teams): Pitt (No. 1 seed), Notre Dame (2), Syracuse (3), St. John's (4), Louisville Cardinals (4), UConn (5), West Virginia Mountaineers (5), Georgetown Hoyas (6), Villanova Wildcats (7), Cincinnati Bearcats (7) and Marquette Golden Eagles (10).

SB Nation's Dobbertean (11): Pitt (1), ND (1), SU (3), Louisville (4), St. John's (4), WVU (5), UConn (5), Cincinnati (6), Georgetown (6), 'Nova (8) and Marquette (12).

Bracketology 101 (11): Pitt (1), ND (1), Syracuse (2), Louisville (4), St. John's (4), WVU (5), UConn (5), Georgetown (6), Cincinnati (6), Villanova (7), Marquette (11).

SI.com's Glockner (11): Pitt (1), ND (1), SU (3), Louisville (4), St. John's (4), WVU (4), UConn (5), Cincinnati (6), Georgetown (6), 'Nova (7) and Marquette (9).

FoxSports.com's Schwartz (11): Pitt (1), ND (1), SU (3), Louisville (3), St. John's (4), WVU (4), Cincinnati (5), Georgetown (5), UConn (6), 'Nova (8) and Marquette (9).

CBSSports.com's Palm (11): Pitt (1), ND (1), SU (2), Louisville (4), St. John's (4), WVU (5), UConn (5), Cincinnati (6), Georgetown (6), 'Nova (7) and Marquette (11).

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