The calendar that goes from February to March arouses enthusiasm in every sports fan, because even if you don't follow university basketball all year long (Note: please watch university basketball all year), c & # 39 It is something special in witnessing March Madness every year. Sixty-eight college basketball teams challenge each other in a knockout tournament which, objectively, is not always good at determining a champion and at the same time being, objectively, the most fun thing in sport.
Before arriving at the NCAA tournament, however, the 32 university basketball conferences must determine the champions. The conference tournaments started last week and, while those were largely entertaining half-major conference tournaments, the biggest did things this week.
Even among the high standards set by the other 31 sports conferences, there is something very special about the Big East going down to New York every March and fighting in Madison Square Garden. While the conference has gone through more turbulence than any other in the sport, seeing a number of teams coming together and leaving the conference, the seriousness of the Big East Tournament is unrivaled.
For years, Bill Raftery has been part of the Big East, first as a coach at Seton Hall, then from his seat in the broadcast booth. This year, Raftery will be present again, providing analysis and praising players who show admirable "onions" for FS1 and Fox. It may not be an integral part of the Madison Square Garden celebrations, but it is terribly difficult to imagine watching a Big East tournament without Bill Raftery playing and letting us know when a team is coming out FROM MAN TO MAN.
To prepare for the launch of this year, which begins Wednesday at 7:00 pm with the 8-9 game between Butler and Providence, we talked to Raftery about the history of the Big East Tournament and some of his favorite moments of the years.