The Big East Conference Tournament begins Tuesday, for local college hoops fans, this is by far the greatest time of the year.
Lucky for you, SB Nation New York is ready to get you fully prepared and keep you updated throughout the five-day, 16-team, single-elimination event at Madison Square Garden. From today until Saturday night's championship game, this will be the place to check for the latest news and results for college basketball's best conference tournament.
If you have yet to check out our front page, well, it's filled with a ton of Big East basketball goodies. Meanwhile, you're here to see who earned the honor of being named SB Nation New York's Player of the Year. Without further delay, the winner is...
Big East Basketball Player of the Year: Jae Crowder, senior forward, Marquette Golden Eagles
This selection may come as a shock to some Big East basketball fans who stopped watching games on Jan. 16. At that time, West Virginia Mountaineers senior forward Kevin Jones had helped his team earn a 4-2 league start, was leading the league in scoring (19.9 points per game) and rebounding (11.5 per game) and had earned one Big East Player of the Week honor.
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles -- a preseason favorite to challenge the Syracuse Orange and Connecticut Huskies for the Big East regular-season title -- had stumbled out of the blocks with a 3-2 league record and had fallen from the No. 10-ranked program in the country on Dec. 19 to No. 25. Crowder was averaging just 16.3 ppg and 7.2 rpg, way behind Jones.
For Jones, a Big East Player of the Year award seemed to be a lock, West Virginia just needed to finish out the season in, at worst, average fashion with a bye in the Big East Tournament and a NCAA Tournament single-digit seed.
However, despite Jones about averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in West Virginia's last 12 games, the team faltered, going 5-7 overall (Feb. 29), a record that could allow them to miss the NCAA Tournament.
In that same time (12 games), Crowder has tallied about 19.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg while shooting 50-plus percent from the floor in his last 15 games, and has been one of two catalysts -- the other being senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom, another Big East Player of the Year candidate -- to lead Marquette to a 13-2 finish in the regular season.
Though, Jones and Johnson-Odom will top Crowder in scoring, Crowder's production when it counts the most has just been better.
Add two Big East Player of the Week honors in the final three weeks of the league's regular season, and ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Crowder is SBN NY's Player of the Year.
For a complete rundown of all the Big East Tournament, check out this SB Nation New York StoryStream.
For a SB Nation New York preview of other Big East schools, click on its respective links: Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Georgetown, South Florida, Louisville, West Virginia, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John's, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Providence, DePaul.