March Madness 2014 in New York City
by Jonathan Zeller, 03/12/2014
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The very existence of March Madness can arguably be traced back to New York City—and, more specifically, to Madison Square Garden. From the 1920s through the early 1950s, local schools like Fordham, New York University, Long Island University, St. John's and City College of New York were powerhouses (LIU and CCNY won national titles before a point-shaving scandal marred NYC's college basketball standing), and games they played at Madison Square Garden contributed to the rise in college basketball's popularity.
The National Invitation Tournament, having started in 1938 at that very arena, predates the NCAA version by a year; for quite some time it was the more prestigious tournament.
Over the decades, MSG has hosted more than 70 NCAA tournament games—but none since 1961. That will change on March 28 and 30, when the East Regional takes place at the recently renovated arena. Prior to those games, the Big East Tournament will be at MSG and the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. In this roundup, we give you the skinny on what to watch for at each tourney.
Big East Tournament
When: March 12–15
Where: Madison Square Garden
Who's Playing: Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova, Xavier
What to Watch For: Local interest in the first-ever tournament for the new-look Big East focuses on whether St. John's can play its way into an at-large bid. Butler and nationally ranked Creighton are making their first appearances in a Big East tournament, while Villanova tries to make its case for a one seed.
Atlantic 10 Tournament
When: March 12–16
Where: Barclays Center
Who's Playing: Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Mason, George Washington, La Salle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Saint Joseph's, VCU
What to Watch For: There are three Atlantic 10 teams with Saint in their name, but only Saint Louis is favored to take the conference championship. VCU and UMass are also having strong seasons. Dayton may be playing for their postseason lives, if ESPN prognosticators are to be believed.
NCAA Tournament East Regional
When: March 28 and 30
Where: Madison Square Garden
Who's Playing: We don't know yet, but they'll be among the last 16 teams competing for a national title.
Tickets: Try ncaa.com
What to Watch For: Well, there's nothing to report yet about the games. But you should drop by Madison Square Garden on March 27, when admission to the participating teams' open practice will be free of charge.
But Wait, There's More!
If that's still not enough basketball for you, you're in luck: there's more amateur roundball coming to New York City in the coming weeks. The NIT semifinals and finals are slated for April 1 and 3 at Madison Square Garden. And in high school action, the NYC Mayor's Cup Basketball All-Star Games—organized by nycgo.com parent organization NYC & Company—pit top players from the CHSAA and PSAL against one another at the City College of New York. The rosters include many Division I recruits, and admission is free; game day is March 29. Also of interest to those scouting the next generation of college stars: the High School National Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on April 5, and the Jordan Brand Classic, in which a national all-star game concludes a day of hoops contests, at Barclays Center on April 18.