NEW YORK (AP) — This Big East Tournament has a distinctly different look.

No. 6 Marquette is the top seed heading into the four-day frenzy at Madison Square Garden for the first time since the Golden Eagles joined the conference in 2005.

Two of the newest Big East members, No. 15 Xavier and No. 24 Creighton, occupy the next two seeds, making this the first men's basketball tournament since the league reorganized in 2013 to have none of its long-standing schools in the top three.

Villanova (16-15, 10-10) Big East, which has dominated the current iteration of the league by winning five of eight conference tournaments, is the sixth seed.

It's been an unusual season in the Big East, which makes the 43rd edition of the conference tournament especially difficult to predict.

"This is a brutal league, man," Connecticut coach Dan Hurley said.

The tournament opens with three first-round games Wednesday and then the top five seeds get going Thursday in the quarterfinals. The championship will be decided Saturday night.

Hurley's fourth-seeded and 11th-ranked Huskies play the 4-5 game Thursday against Providence.

"You’re playing for different stakes, but there’s no team in the country playing better than them right now,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said.

Under second-year coach Shaka Smart, Marquette won the Big East regular-season title outright for the first time. The Golden Eagles (25-6, 17-3) were picked ninth in the preseason poll, but ended up having their best regular season since Dwyane Wade led them to a Conference USA championship in 2003.

Marquette plays the winner of the 8-9 game between St. John's and Butler in the opener of Thursday's quadruple-header.

The Golden Eagles swept the AP's top Big East honors, with point guard Tyler Kolek taking player of the year and Smart coach of the year.

A year after being one-and-done in the Big East Tournament, leading scorer Kam Jones and the Golden Eagles have their sights set on leaving a legacy. Marquette has never reached the Big East championship game, while Xavier lost in its only appearance (2015) and Creighton is 0-4.

“You know how the teams from the past, they come up and they talk to us about what they did, and stuff like that,” Jones said after clinching the regular-season crown last Saturday. “It was just cool to think about how the next 10, 15 years, I can come back to Marquette and be like: ‘We won the Big East outright. What you going to do?’"


If bracket projections are to be believed, the Big East doesn't have any teams on the NCAA Tournament selection bubble.

Marquette, Xavier, Creighton, Connecticut and Providence all seem to be comfortably in the field — though the Friars (21-10) have lost three of four to create a bit of uncertainty.

For the rest, the automatic NCAA bid that goes to the tournament champion looks like the only path.

“Well, I think we’ve got a couple of teams in our league in Seton Hall and Villanova that could beat anybody, and then you got another team in St. John's that just came out here and nearly beat us today,” Smart said after Saturday's regular-season finale. “They’ve also beaten UConn and Providence.”


Villanova's first season after Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright's abrupt retirement has been bumpy.

Kyle Neptune's team seemed to be playing its way onto the fringes of NCAA Tournament consideration late in the season, but a 12-point loss at home to UConn on Saturday left the Wildcats' streak of nine straight appearances in peril.

Villanova plays last-place Georgetown on Wednesday night, with third-seeded Creighton awaiting the winner.

"We’ve got to go out and prepare for one team. And then prepare for another team and then hopefully prepare for another team,” Neptune said.


Patrick Ewing's six-year tenure as Georgetown coach peaked during the pandemic-marred season of 2020-21, when the Hoyas made a surprising run to the Big East Tournament title in a mostly empty Madison Square Garden.

Now it could come to an end in the building where he starred for 15 seasons with the New York Knicks.

Georgetown is 13-49 over the last two seasons, with only two Big East victories. The Hoyas closed the regular season with a 40-point loss at Creighton. Ewing, a basketball Hall of Famer and former Georgetown great, is 75-108 as Hoyas coach.


Xavier forward Zach Freemantle, the team's leading rebounder, will miss the postseason after having surgery on his left foot. The Musketeers have played their last nine games without the 6-foot-9 senior and gone 6-3. He is third on the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game.

Second-seeded Xavier plays Thursday against the winner of Seton Hall-DePaul.

Marquette's Kolek, Smart collect AP's top honors in Big East

Marquette's Tyler Kolek is the Associated Press Big East player of the year and Shaka Smart is the unanimous pick for coach of the year after the two led the Golden Eagles' surprising run to their first regular-season championship in 10 years.

Xavier's Souley Boum was voted newcomer of the year in balloting by 11 writers and broadcasters who cover the conference.

Kolek and Smart led No. 6 Marquette to a school-record 17 conference wins and its highest national ranking since 1978.

Kolek, a unanimous All-Big East first-team pick along with Providence's Bryce Hopkins, is among the conference leaders in five categories and is playing some of his best ball of late.

Kolek will enter the Big East Tournament at New York's Madison Square Garden off three straight double-doubles, averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 assists in those games. His 7.9 assists per game for the season leads the Big East and is second nationally.

Smart combined high-scoring offense with aggressive defense to make the Golden Eagles the first team since the Big East formed in 1979-80 to win at least a share of the title after being picked ninth or lower. Marquette beat every league team at least once for the first time since it joined the league in 2005-06.

Hopkins, in his first season at Providence after transferring from Kentucky, has 10 double-doubles and leads the Friars with 16.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Joining Kolek and Hopkins on the first team are Boum and big men Adama Sanogo of Connecticut and Ryan Kalkbrenner of Creighton.

Boum played at San Francisco and UTEP before landing at Xavier this season, and he emerged as the Musketeers' top player. He's second in the Big East in scoring with 16.8 points per game and third in 3-point shooting at 42.2%. His 4.5 assists are second on the team and tied for sixth in the league.


u-Guard — Tyler Kolek, Marquette, Jr., 6-3, 190, Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Guard — Souley Boum, Xavier, Gr., 6-3, 175, Oakland, California.

u-Forward — Bryce Hopkins, Providence, So., 6-7, 220, Oak Park, Illinois.

Forward — Adama Sanogo, Connecticut, Jr., 6-9, 245, Bamako, Mali.

Center — Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton, Jr., 7-1, 260, Florissant, Missouri.


Guard — Kam Jones, Marquette, So., 6-4, 195, Memphis, Tennessee.

Guard — Colby Jones, Xavier, Jr., 6-6, 205, Birmingham, Alabama.

Guard — Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut, So., 6-5, 195, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Forward — Eric Dixon, Villanova, Jr., 6-8 255, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

Center — Joel Soriano, St. John's, Sr., 6-11, 260, Yonkers, New York.


u-Coach of the year — Shaka Smart, Marquette.

Player of the year — Tyler Kolek, Marquette.

Newcomer of the year — Souley Boum, Xavier.

—“u” denotes unanimous selection.

AP Top 25 teams get last shot to boost NCAA Tournament seeds

Selection Sunday looms as AP Top 25 teams in major conferences get their final chances to impact where and why they play in the NCAA Tournament.

In the nation’s top leagues, there could be significant swings based on early exits or title runs. Here’s a look at what’s ahead leading up to the biggest day on the sport’s calendar on Sunday:


The American Athletic Conference Tournament begins Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, and it gives top-ranked Houston the chance to make a final case potentially for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAAs.

The Cougars (29-2) are the only team in the country to rank in the top 10 of KenPom's adjusted efficiency metrics in both offense and defense.

Houston opens against the East Carolina-South Florida winner on Friday, and the tournament is one of five to end on Sunday shortly before the NCAA field is revealed.


The Atlantic Coast Conference opens its five-day tournament Tuesday in Greensboro, North Carolina. It's an event lacking a true favorite or team poised to claim a top-tier postseason seed.

Virginia and No. 14 Miami shared the regular-season title, though the Hurricanes are the top seed for the first time since winning the tournament in 2013. But 21st-ranked Duke is the league's hottest team with six straight wins.

All three open play in Thursday's quarterfinals, with the Cavaliers on course for a 4-seed, Miami for a 5 and Duke for a 7, according to's average of 100 mock fields on Monday evening.

BIG 12

Third-ranked Kansas won a national title, overhauled its roster and still finds itself in the chase for the No. 1 overall NCAA seed entering the Big 12 Tournament.

That tournament opens Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri, with the Jayhawks and other top seeds starting play on Day 2.

Kansas (25-6) has a national-best 15 wins in Quadrant 1 games that top the postseason resume, which had them as the top overall seed in ESPN's Bracketology projection on Monday evening.

Winning a title this week won't come easy in a league regarded as the nation's deepest all year. The field includes No. 7 Texas, No. 10 Baylor, No. 12 Kansas State and No. 22 TCU.


The Big East opens play Wednesday in New York's Madison Square Garden with four ranked teams: No. 6 Marquette, No. 11 Connecticut, No. 15 Xavier and No. 24 Creighton.

The top-seeded Golden Eagles, who open play Thursday, have the highest projected NCAA Tournament seed at No. 3 on both ESPN and BracketMatrix, while BracketMatrix has the Huskies and Musketeers as potential 4-seeds.

The Bluejays, who re-entered the poll for a third time this season on Monday, are projected as a No. 6 seed in the NCAAs.

The tournament wraps up Saturday night.


The Big Ten opens it tournament Wednesday in Chicago with No. 5 Purdue and No. 19 Indiana as the only ranked teams, though the Boilermakers are in the mix for a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAAs.

The Boilermakers are the top seed for Chicago and BracketMatrix listed them as the fourth of the top seeds.

The Boilermakers and Hoosiers both begin play in Friday's quarterfinals with the title game coming Sunday.


The Pac-12 has two ranked teams in contention for lofty NCAA seeds as the league tournament opens Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Second-ranked UCLA is surging down the stretch and has its highest ranking of the season, putting it in position to contend for a No. 1 regional seed as the top No. 2 seed in BracketMatrix's projections. Eighth-ranked Arizona is also looking likely for a 2-seed.

The Bruins and Wildcats split their regular-season meetings, with UCLA winning Saturday's regular-season finale while holding the top seed for Las Vegas. Both teams open play Thursday.


Fourth-ranked Alabama is the top seed for the Southeastern Conference Tournament beginning Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. And the Crimson Tide could be in contention for the top overall NCAA seed with a title run.

Alabama (26-5) owns the top seed in the SEC and opens play in Friday's quarterfinals, finishing a game ahead of No. 18 Texas A&M in the regular-season race.

The tournament also features No. 17 Tennessee, No. 23 Kentucky and No. 25 Missouri, with the title game set for Sunday.

UCLA is hoping for better Pac-12 tourney, Vegas experience

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UCLA coach Mick Cronin has a unique relationship with Las Vegas.

He was offered the UNLV job in 2016, turning it down to remain at Cincinnati, and has said he considers Las Vegas his second home. Cronin's Bruins have played five regular-season games in Las Vegas the past two years, and had a sixth scheduled against North Carolina in December 2021 that was canceled because of COVID-19 issues.

Then, of course, there is the annual Pac-12 Conference Tournament, which opens Wednesday, that brings Cronin and his team to Las Vegas.

But as much as he enjoys coming here, his on-court experiences haven't always worked out the way he wanted. UCLA made the finals of the conference tournament last season before losing 84-76 to Arizona.

Then this season, the Bruins were swept in December by Illinois and Baylor. Cronin's voice could be heard through the wall as he dressed down his team at halftime of one of those games.

He said Tuesday, however, he isn't anxious about this week as No. 2 UCLA (27-4) plays for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He said he wants his players to enjoy the week.

To that end, Cronin planned to take them to Topgolf on Tuesday night.

Still, this is a big week for the Bruins, who if they win the tournament almost certainly would be the No. 1 seed in the West Region. And if they win the first two games of the NCAA Tournament, they would be right back in Las Vegas for the regional.

Cronin said the players have been focused on trying to become the West's top seed, and there are practical reasons to try to achieve that spot.

“I do know the travel is an issue," Cronin said. "I made one Final Four (2021 in the Indiana bubble). It took one flight to get there. Common sense would tell you you’re going to have more fans when you travel less. I guess you try to get every advantage on your side.”


Cronin said guard Jaylen Clark, who was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, won't play in the conference tournament because of a lower-leg injury.

Cronin said the additional playing time for other players would be beneficial, but acknowledged what Clark means to his team.

“It's much harder to win that (defensive) award as a guard, but I'd be shocked if Jaylen Clark didn't win that award unanimously," Cronin said. "That's how good of a defender he is.”

Cronin didn't offer a prognosis for Clark's return.


No. 8 Arizona (25-6) is the only other ranked Pac-12 team, and it would be a significant upset if the Wildcats didn't face UCLA in the title game for the second year in a row.

They met on Saturday in Los Angeles, and the Bruins won 82-73. Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said facing a veteran UCLA team at home on senior night would have been a tall task for any team.

“You could've played really well at UCLA that night and lost by three or four,” Lloyd said. “That hasn't stuck with us at all. Hopefully, we learned a few things from it. I've moved on and hopefully our players have, too.”

The Wildcats finished the regular season with two losses in their final three games. Arizona also lost to rival Arizona State 89-88 on a 60-foot shot at the buzzer.


UCLA and Arizona are not only locks to make the NCAA Tournament, both should receive high seeds.

There's much less certainty for the rest of the conference.

Southern California (22-9) owns the next-highest NET ranking among Pac-12 schools at No. 45. The NET ranking is one metric the committee uses to determine the 68-team field.

Oregon (18-13) is next at No. 47, and Arizona State (20-11) is 64th.

It could be a nervous Sunday for those three Pac-12 teams as they wait to see which at-large teams are selected for the tournament.


UCLA is a plus-150 favorite to win the conference tournament, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, meaning a $100 bet would pay $150. Arizona is nearly the co-favorite at plus-165, and USC is next at plus-650. ... The Bruins dominated the conference awards. In addition to Clark, senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. was named Player of the Year, forward Adem Bona the Freshman of the Year and Cronin the Coach of the Year. The other awards went to Arizona junior center Oumar Ballo as Most Improved Player and USC sophomore guard Reese Dixon-Waters as Sixth Player of the Year.

UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr., Cronin highlight AP All-Pac-12 team

Jaime Jaquez Jr.'s decision to return for his senior season worked out quite well for No. 2 UCLA.

Jaquez was named The Associated Press player of the year in the Pac-12 on Tuesday and Bruins coach Mick Cronin is the conference coach of the year. Washington forward Keion Brooks was named Pac-12 newcomer of the year by an eight-person panel of journalists who cover the conference.

Jaquez considered leaving Westwood for the NBA after three productive seasons that included a trip the Final Four and the Sweet 16 in consecutive years. The crafty 6-foot-7 swing man had another boxscore-stuffing season in his return, averaging 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while helping lead the Bruins to their first Pac-12 regular-season title in a decade.

Cronin has returned UCLA to prominence in four seasons since leaving Cincinnati. The Bruins had deep NCAA Tournament runs the past two seasons and were the class of the Pac-12 this year.

UCLA went 27-4 overall during the regular season, 18-2 in Pac-12 play and had its first undefeated home season (17-0) since 2006-07. The Bruins have the nation's longest active home winning streak at 25 games and are the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament this week in Las Vegas.

Brooks had an immediate impact at Washington after transferring from Kentucky. The 6-foot-7 forward was third in Pac-12 scoring at 17.8 points per game while grabbing 6.9 rebounds.


u-Guard — Tyger Campbell, UCLA, Sr., 5-11, 180, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Guard — Boogie Ellis, USC, Sr., 6-3, 185, San Diego.

u-Forward — Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA, Sr., 6-7, 225, Camarillo, California.

u-Forward — Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona, Jr., 6-11, 245, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Center — Branden Carlson, Utah, Sr., 7-0, 228, South Jordan, Utah.

—“u” denotes unanimous selection.


Guard — Drew Peterson, USC, Sr., 6-9, 205, Libertyville, Illinois.

Guard — Keion Brooks Jr., Washington, Sr., 6-7, 210, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Forward — Mouhamed Gueye, Washington St., So., 6-11, 210, Dakar, Senegal.

Forward — N'Faly Dante, Oregon, Sr., 6-11, 230, Bamako, Mali.

Center — Oumar Ballo, Arizona, Jr., 7-0, 260, Koulikoro, Mali.


Player of the year — Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA.

Coach of the year — Mick Cronin, UCLA.

Newcomer of the year — Keion Brooks, Washington.