Patrick Ewing Credit: AlexanderJonesi (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patrick_Ewing_2021.jpg), „Patrick Ewing 2021“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

The Big East (men’s basketball) Tournament began yesterday (Wednesday) at Madison Square Garden with an automatic bid to the NCAA field of 68 awarded to the winner. But there are several teams in the conference that are assured a trip to what’s commonly referred to as the Big Dance.

The tournament’s No. 1 seed Providence, No. 2 Villanova and No. 3 UConn lead a contingent of the conference’s nationally ranked teams that are assured spots. Creighton, Seton Hall, Marquette and Rutgers are also likely to receive bids. Two traditional Big East powers, St. John’s and Georgetown, will have to win the tournament championship, which will be held on Saturday, to get an invite. St. John’s was 16-14 and 8-11 in conference play before their opening round game versus DePaul last night.

Georgetown has had a historically poor season and their coach, former Knicks great Patrick Ewing, has been maligned for a 6-24 overall record and going winless in the conference at 0-19 heading into last night’s game against Seton Hall. There have been calls from a large segment of Georgetown supporters for his firing but a little over a week ago he was backed by the university’s athletics director.

“In this ever-evolving landscape of college athletics we are committed to Coach Ewing, and we are working with him to evaluate every aspect of the men’s basketball program and to make the necessary changes for him to put us back on the path to success for next year,” maintained Lee Reed. However, pressure from boosters and other well connected alumni may alter Reed’s stance.

Wagner reached the Northeast Conference championship on Tuesday but Bryant ran away with the title, defeating the Seahawks 70-43 behind senior Peter Kiss’ 34 points. Kiss is a New York City native who began his high school career at Monsignor Scanlan in the Bronx. The game was marred by a fight in the stands between fans late in the game that caused a 30 minute stoppage.

The MAAC tournament kicked off on Tuesday in Atlantic City with 25-6 Iona as the top seed. The Gaels were 17-2 in regular season conference games. The College of Charleston’s John Meeks had a season-high 31 points on Sunday to knock Hofstra out of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament quarterfinals 92-76.

It was a disappointing loss for the Pride who came into the CAA tournament third in the conference standings. Hofstra bested Charleston 89-84 on Feb. 28.

Fordham ((15-15, 8-10), the No. 8 seed going into the Atlantic 10 Tournament, will take on No. 9 seed George Mason (14-15, 7-9) today at 12 p.m. at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

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