Champion Crowned Saturday on FOX in Prime Time
Xavier’s Chris Mack and Villanova’s Jay Wright Talk BIG EAST Tournament
on FIRST THINGS FIRST This Morning
NEW YORK, NY – For the fifth consecutive year, FOX Sports is the exclusive home to one of the nation’s premier college basketball conference tournaments, as the 2018 BIG EAST Tournament tips off tonight at 7:00 PM ET on FS1. Beginning with tonight’s opening matchup between No. 8 seed Georgetown and No. 9 St. John’s, live coverage from Madison Square Garden continues throughout the week, culminating with Saturday’s BIG EAST Tournament Championship on the FOX broadcast network at 6:30 PM ET.
FS1 lead college basketball play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson and analyst Bill Raftery call first-round games tonight, Wednesday, March 7, and evening quarterfinals on Thursday, March 8. Justin Kutcher and Jim Jackson call the Thursday afternoon contests, and Johnson and Jackson are courtside for the semifinals on Friday, March 9, and final on Saturday, March 10. Lisa Byington, covering her third tournament in her third city in less than two weeks, works the sidelines for all nine BIG EAST Tournament games.
FOX Sports also has a full studio presence live from Madison Square Garden, anchored by host Rob Stone and analyst Donny Marshall throughout the tournament. Analysts Nick Bahe and Len Elmore also drop by the network’s on-court set to present top highlights, poignant features and more. FOX Sports’ official bracketologist Howie Schwab is in the FOX Sports Los Angeles studios all week, providing updated projections each day as Tournament Week rolls on.
FOX Sports’ extensive coverage extends beyond the television screen with additional programming on the BIG EAST Digital Network, available to all fans on FOX Sports GO. BIG EAST SHOOTAROUND, which streams live on the BIG EAST Digital Network, presents coverage of the conference’s awards ceremony today at 4:00 PM ET with live pregame shows Friday at 5:30 PM ET and Saturday at 6:00 PM ET. Hosted by John Fanta, this week’s BIG EAST SHOOTAROUND programming features several familiar FOX Sports faces, including a behind-the-scenes tour led by Byington. Coverage continues Selection Sunday at 9:00 PM ET with a special edition of BIG EAST SHOOTAROUND featuring reactions and analysis.
FS1’s tournament coverage began this morning as Xavier coach Chris Mack and Villanova coach Jay Wright joined FIRST THINGS FIRST to discuss their programs, the BIG EAST Tournament and the NCAA Tournament ahead. Quotes from this morning’s show can be found on the following page.
College basketball games on FOX and FS1 can be live streamed via FOX Sports GO, at FOXSports.com, through the FOX Sports and FOX Sports GO apps on iOS and Android, and on connected devices including Apple TV, Android TV, FireTV, Roku, Chromecast and Xbox One.
FOX Sports’ full BIG EAST Tournament programming schedule, including broadcaster information, can be found by clicking HERE.
XAVIER COACH CHRIS MACK AND VILLANOVA COACH JAY WRIGHT PREVIEW BIG EAST TOURNAMENT ON FS1’s FIRST THINGS FIRST
Prior to tipoff of the BIG EAST Tournament, Xavier head coach Chris Mack and Villanova head coach Jay Wright appeared on this morning’s edition of FIRST THINGS FIRST WITH CRIS CARTER AND NICK WRIGHT on FS1 to discuss the importance of the tournament and how teams value the experience.
Chris Mack on Xavier’s first regular season BIG EAST Title:
“It was awesome. Obviously, we clinched a share of the game before, on Wednesday night, against Providence, and we had the opportunity to celebrate it. But this was our fifth year in the league and nobody had won a regular season title outside of Villanova, and obviously everybody knows how good they’ve been for so many years. So it was special. Especially the fact that we have three seniors who’ve been with me for four years and have tried to climb that mountain top. To get there was awfully rewarding.”
Chris Mack on how special it is to coach Xavier this year:
“First of all, we have a really good mix of young guys and veterans. But I think when you get to the point where your team is coaching the team – not that I don’t have a role at all – the seniors do a really good job. Tony Dungy calls it regenerative leadership, where your oldest players teach the younger players. And not necessarily just on the court, but the way you carry yourself, the way you travel, your practice habits. And when I have guys that are seniors that are looking me in the eye in every huddle like they’re freshmen, it’s something you want as a coach and I am very fortunate.”
Chris Mack on the strength and depth of the BIG EAST:
“A year ago, we [the BIG EAST] had seven teams in the NCAA Tournament. I think sometimes they talk about the ACC and other conferences getting eight or nine – we only have 10 teams in our league. When you’re getting 70 percent of the teams in the NCAA Tournament, it’s impressive. I think this year you’re probably looking at six teams making the tournament. But the other thing I would tell you is that you don’t have to look that far. If you look at the team that finished in ninth place in our league, St. Johns, they had a streak where they beat Villanova, took us down to the wire, they beat Duke in MSG. If you can take down Villanova and Duke in the same week, it says a lot about your talent level, and I think that’s what our league looks like as a whole.”
Jay Wright on what it is like playing in the BIG EAST:
“It’s really cool. I came up in the old BIG EAST and I never thought anything could match that. It’s never going to be the same. But where this league is right now – you look at the possibility of maybe seven teams in the NCAA Tournament. Xavier and Villanova are ranked, I think No. 2 and No. 3 in the country, but what’s just as important and maybe more, is that in the RPI they are both No. 2 and No. 3. That shows the strength of our league and the strength of our out-of-conference schedule. And then given that, we’ve gotten beat – we got beat by the last-place team in the league, and so everybody can beat everybody. It’s really cool, it’s an amazing conference.”
Jay Wright on the atmosphere of the BIG EAST Tournament:
“Just look across the country at all the tournaments in the top conferences, they all move around. This BIG EAST tournament has been here 30 years, and the New York City basketball world readies for this every year. All the alumni from our school are in this city. This is what you do during this week in March if you’re an alum at one of these schools. You spend your week going to the tournament. And the players know it. The vibe going into The Garden – you come up that freight elevator and you hear the roar upstairs. There’s nowhere in college basketball like it.”
The BIG EAST Tournament tips off tonight at 7:00 PM ET on FS1. FIRST THINGS FIRST airs live from New York City weekdays on FS1 from 6:30 to 9:30 AM ET.