The Big East Tournament is the crown jewel of Championship Week, and this year showcased exactly why.
West Virginia's 60-58 title game victory over Georgetown Saturday night marked the seventh game in the tournament (out of 15) that was decided by three points or less. It also highlighted one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball: tourney MVP Da'Sean Butler.
Butler scored 20 points on the night, none bigger than a gritty runner in the lane with 4.2 seconds remaining that would ultimately prove to be the deciding bucket. It was just the latest heroic effort in a season chock-full of them for Butler, who banked home a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Cincinnati in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
"We ran the same play we did against Cincinnati," Butler said after the game. "I scooped the layup off the glass, and it fell."
The play, termed by head coach Bob Huggins as "get the ball to Da'Sean and let him make a play," earned the Mountaineers their first Big East Tournament title and almost certainly locked up at least a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
More notes from the night:
--It's still weird for me to see Huggins as vulnerable and emotional as he was after the game. This is Bob Huggins. Bob Huggins doesn't cry. Bob Huggins coaches the scariest human beings in the world at Cincinnati and he's so intimidating that somehow guys like Kenyon Martin actually listen to him.
--Da'Sean Butler's highlight reel from this season is truly unbelievable. How a guy that good on a top-ten team from the Big East can go that overlooked is mind-boggling.
--I can see both Georgetown and West Virginia going to the Final Four and I can also see them both losing in the second round. The talent and coaching are definitely there for a run, but their styles of play just aren't as conducive to tournament success as Syracuse or Villanova's are.
--The grease board in the West Virginia locker room after the game reportedly read: "6 more, 240 minutes."
--The things that Greg Monroe can do at his size are remarkable, but at what point is someone going to finally try and force him to dribble with his right hand?
--Chris Wright inexplicably fouling with the score tied and less than 30 seconds to play would have been the story of the night had he not come down and made a sensational offensive play to tie it back up on the other end of the floor. I'm glad things ended up playing out the way they did. You'd hate to see a tournament as tremendous as this one be decided by something like that.
--I'm inviting Bilas, Raftery and McDounough to my wedding.
--Poor officiating has been one of the biggest themes of the 2010 Big East season, but there really wasn't a great deal to complain about over the past week. The stripes may have taken up a bit too much air time during the second half on Saturday, but there certainly wasn't anything as egregious as some of the stuff we saw during the regular season.
--Hearing "Country Roads" blaring inside Madison Square Garden was surreal.
--Georgetown was the eight seed in this tournament but will almost certainly have a number at least half that size (four...math...simplify and divide, baby) by its name on Selection Sunday.
--After the game, Bob Huggins made his case for the Mountaineers snagging the last No. 1 seed that appears to be floating around:
"We have 18 Top 100 wins. We have nine Top 50 wins. The 18 is the most of any team in the country. Our non-league RPI was second. Our strength of schedule is going to be one. We're going to end up in the top two or three in the RPI. They say, 'Do those things' and we've done those things. That being said, we're going to enjoy this. We're going to get together tomorrow and watch the selection show, find out where we're going to go and who we're going to play."
--This was WVU's first Big East Tournament title, but they won the A-10 Tournament title back in 1984.
--All five of West Virginia's starters are from the New York area. That's pretty cool.
--A bit overlooked tonight is that Butler became just the third player in Mountaineer history to top the 2,000-point plateau, joining Hot Rod Hundley and Mr. Jerry West.
--Great night, great tournament...the Butler did it.