UConn's Shabazz Napier, left, and Kemba Walker celebrate after defeating...

UConn's Shabazz Napier, left, and Kemba Walker celebrate after defeating Pittsburgh during the quarterfinals Big East Tournament. (Mar. 10, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

This season marks the 30th anniversary of the Big East basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden after the league's first three tournaments moved from Providence to Syracuse to Hartford.

Fittingly, the first MSG edition was a showcase for hometown kid Chris Mullin, who was named MVP as a sophomore for leading St. John's to the title over Boston College to help make the tournament a New York fixture.

Here are Newsday's picks for the top 5 moments in Big East Tournament history at MSG:

No. 1 -- UConn's five-day run

In 2011, point guard Kemba Walker led Connecticut to five victories in five days, an unprecedented feat in the history of Division I college basketball tournaments. Walker's 130 points are the most ever scored in a postseason conference tournament by far, and his 111 through four games also would have set that record. Walker hit a buzzer-beater to top Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, scored 33 in an OT semifinal win over Syracuse and played 190 of a possible 205 tourney minutes. For good measure, he went on to lead UConn to the NCAA title.

No. 2 -- Six-overtime thriller

Syracuse's 127-117 quarterfinal win over Connecticut that went six overtimes in 2009 is the greatest single game ever played in Big East Tournament history. Orange star Eric Devendorf hit an apparent game-winner at the end of regulation, but it was ruled to have been released after the buzzer, leading to the epic OT saga. The game ultimately took 3:46 to play, ending at 1:22 a.m., and 102 of the 244 points were scored in overtime. Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn, who had 34 points and 11 assists in 67 minutes, later said, "I was thinking, 'Lord, just get this game over with.' "

No. 3 -- Gerry McNamara Week

Until Walker came along, the greatest individual performance belonged to Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara, whose heroics carried the ninth-seeded Orange to the 2006 title with four wins in four days. McNamara made a buzzer-beater to win the first game over Cincinnati and hit another buzzer-beater to send the second against Connecticut to OT before Syracuse won. Hurting from a groin injury in the semis, McNamara drained five threes in the second half and passed to Devendorf for the winning basket. He then led the Orange to a win over Pitt in the final.

No. 4 -- Hoya Paranoia times two

Combining tournaments might be stretching it, but Georgetown center Patrick Ewing's MVP performances in 1984-85 are what really put the Big East Tournament on par with the more storied ACC Tournament. In 1984, Ewing led the Hoyas to the title over Syracuse in a duel with Dwayne "Pearl" Washington, and he topped Mullin and top-seeded St. John's in 1985. Georgetown won the NCAA title in 1984 and was runner-up the following year.

No. 5 (tie) -- Stars collide

We'll take the easy way out and call it a tie for two great championship finals that ended with stars colliding. In 1986, St. John's won the title when Wooden Award winner Walter Berry blocked a shot at the buzzer by Syracuse's Washington. In 1996, Connecticut got its first Big East title when Ray Allen hit a shot at the buzzer over Georgetown's Allen Iverson.


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