Championship Week Takes Center Stage In Big Apple
by John Jastremski
Mar 07, 2017 | 2414 views | 0 0 comments | 160 160 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s no secret that after Super Bowl Sunday, February is without question the worst month on the sporting calendar.

The lull in the NBA/NHL season, the end of the football season, and the reality that baseball is still a good eight weeks away always makes February a challenge to do a show night after night, and only enhances my love for seeing the calendar flip to the month of March.

Once you’ve hit the month of March, you know as a sports fan, “okay, we’ve made it.”

Why? Well, March provides some of the most thrilling and unpredictable moments that you will see all year.

Of course, the highlight is the idiot-proof NCAA Tournament that is easily one of the highlights on the yearly sporting calendar.

However, championship week leading into the Big Dance is a mighty fine appetizer.

It’s like waiting for a juicy steak, but knowing full well the shrimp cocktail is to die for.

In New York City, it’s been an annual rite of passage to prepare for the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

For years, it was one of my favorite traditions in sports.

From the days of leaving school early to watch Gerry McNamara put on a show in 2006 to covering the six-overtime classic between my alma mater Syracuse and UCONN as a member of the college radio station in 2009, my nights in March were spent at Madison Square Garden watching memorable moment after memorable moment.

The Big East was the pinnacle of college basketball.

Conference realignment changed of all that.

Syracuse, UCONN, Louisville and Notre Dame said goodbye.

The tournament remained, but it’s never been the same.

This week won’t necessarily duplicate the magic of the old Big East, but as a New York fan, you are about to be treated to a good old-fashioned conference tournament double dip.

The Big East Tournament will of course be at Madison Square Garden, but the best conference in college basketball is coming to town for the first time.

The ACC will play it’s conference tournament at the Barclays Center.

Brooklyn welcomes the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Louisville and Syracuse to town.

The idea of those four potentially playing in a quarterfinal on Thursday is simply mind boggling, because it’s the sort of brand-name power you’d expect to see at a Final Four, not the quarterfinal of a conference tournament.

The ACC brings big programs, Hall Of Fame coaches, and some of best and most passionate fan bases in the country.

It’s the sort of week that should allow true basketball fans to experience the best of what the ACC and the Big East have to offer.

Many of the teams that will be in town over the next week in both conferences will be playing in next week’s NCAA Tournament.

The ACC is projected to have at least nine teams make the tournament and the Big East should have at least six.

Combine that with two of the frontrunners to win the national championship in Villanova and North Carolina, and it’s set up to be an unbelievable week.

I’ve never attended two conference championship games in the same day, but Saturday I’m crossing that off my bucket list: the Big East final late in the afternoon followed by the ACC final at night.

Considering the distance between The Garden and the Barclays Center, it would be crazy not to take advantage!

It won’t be the good old Big East, but it’s the sort of week that can create some new memories that will live forever.

Let’s hope that two is indeed better than one!

You can listen to me on WFAN Sports Radio 660/1019 FM on Wednesday from 12 to 2 a.m. & Sunday from 1:30 to 6 a.m. You can also listen to me on CBS Sports Radio Wednesday and Friday from 6 to 10 p.m.
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