NEW YORK (AP) — Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner was chosen Big East Defensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive season on Monday.

The 7-foot-1 senior joined former Georgetown big men Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning as the only players to win the award three times. Ewing won four straight years from 1982-85, and Mourning took the honor in 1989, '90 and ’92.

Desmond Claude of Xavier was selected Most Improved Player in voting by the league's coaches. UConn guard Hassan Diarra won the Sixth Man Award, and Creighton point guard Steven Ashworth was given the Sportsmanship Award.

Kalkbrenner ranks third in the nation with 2.97 blocked shots per game for the eighth-ranked Bluejays (23-8, 14-6), the No. 2 seed in this week's Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. He averaged 3.4 in conference games, which led the league.

Claude, a sophomore guard, averaged 16 points and 4.1 rebounds after averaging 4.7 points and 2.5 boards as a freshman last season in a sixth-man role. He also boosted his free-throw shooting from 57.1% to 79.2%.

Diarra, a 6-foot-2 senior and top defender, averaged six points, 2.9 rebounds and two assists in 19.1 minutes per game for the second-ranked Huskies (28-3, 18-2). After winning the regular-season conference title, the reigning national champions will be the top seed in the Big East Tournament.

Ashworth, a transfer from Utah State, averaged 10.5 points and 4.1 assists this season.

The conference's head coaches make the selections and are not allowed to vote for their own players.

The league's Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Freshman of the Year will be announced Wednesday during a news conference at Madison Square Garden, a couple of hours before the Big East Tournament tips off.

The award for Player of the Year will go to one of the six All-Big East first-team selections announced Sunday: Tristen Newton and backcourt mate Cam Spencer from UConn, Providence's Devin Carter, Marquette point guard Tyler Kolek, Seton Hall's Kadary Richmond and Creighton's Baylor Scheierman.

Carter, Kolek, Newton and Scheierman were unanimous picks. Kalkbrenner was a member of the second team.

Kolek, the 2023 Big East Player of the Year, missed the final three games of the regular season with an oblique injury.

No. 2 UConn seeks 1st Big East tourney title since 2011 in MSG clash that could burst NCAA bubble

NEW YORK (AP) — Just about the only accomplishment missing from UConn's tour de force the past two years is a Big East Tournament title.

That could provide added motivation this week at Madison Square Garden for a dominant squad that doesn't seem to need any.

“As good a college basketball team as I’ve seen in a long time,” Providence coach Kim English said Saturday.

After winning the regular-season conference crown by four games, the second-ranked Huskies (28-3, 18-2) are the No. 1 seed in a Big East Tournament that features three top-10 teams and four others perched precariously on the NCAA Tournament bubble: Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova and Providence.

Needless to say, the selection committee will be watching closely — along with March Madness fans all over the country.

The first-round tripleheader tips off Wednesday afternoon when eighth-seeded Butler faces No. 9 seed Xavier, with the winner advancing to play Connecticut in the first of four quarterfinal games Thursday.

“It's going to be a blast, man,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. "It’s a seven-bid league. And three national championship-caliber teams. It’s the best conference tournament in the country — nothing’s even close.”

It's easy to forget Hurley and his Huskies lost to Marquette in the semifinals last season, especially since they quickly shrugged off that sting and romped to a national championship weeks later.

But the fact is, UConn hasn't won this storied event since 2011, when “Kardiac” Kemba Walker famously carried the team to five scintillating wins in five days. So technically, the Huskies have captured three national titles (2011, 2014, 2023) since their last Big East Tournament crown.

Of course, the school spent seven seasons in the American Athletic Conference from 2014-20. However, the Huskies have been knocked out in the Big East semifinals all three years since rejoining the league. And anyone familiar with UConn's history and boisterous fan base knows Big East supremacy remains a big deal in Connecticut — even with five NCAA titles to tout, all in the past quarter-century.

Fueled by first-team All-Big East guards Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer, these Huskies are seeking the program's eighth Big East Tournament championship, which would match Georgetown for the most of any school.

Connecticut is 4-0 at MSG this season, including double-digit wins over No. 4 North Carolina and St. John's, a potential semifinal opponent.

But regardless of results in Midtown Manhattan this week, UConn has probably sewed up a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs already — and maybe an opening-weekend trip to the Barclays Center site, just a subway ride away in Brooklyn.

“The problem for people when they play against us now is, we've got that championship confidence," Hurley said.


Point guard Tyler Kolek missed the final three regular-season games for No. 10 Marquette with an oblique injury. Golden Eagles coach Shaka Smart has expressed confidence that Kolek will return at some point this postseason, but his status for the Big East Tournament was uncertain.

Kolek was the 2023 Big East Player of the Year and tournament MVP for defending champion Marquette. He is averaging 15 points and leads the nation with 7.6 assists per game. The third-seeded Golden Eagles (23-8, 14-6) await the Villanova-DePaul winner in the quarterfinals Thursday night.


The second quarterfinal Thursday afternoon matches fourth-seeded Seton Hall (20-11, 13-7) against No. 5 seed St. John's (19-12, 11-9). Both teams are barely on the right side of the NCAA bubble in several bracket projections, so this one could have significant postseason implications.

In his debut season at streaking St. John's, 71-year-old Hall of Famer Rick Pitino is trying to become the first coach to take six schools to the NCAA Tournament.

"It would be very special if we can get there and I think we could do some damage if we do,” point guard Daniss Jenkins said.

St. John's hasn't reached the Big East semifinals since winning the 2000 championship — even though the event takes place on one of its home courts.


Sixth-seeded Villanova (17-14, 10-10), a perennial power under Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright, is in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in two seasons with Kyle Neptune at the helm.

A first-round victory against downtrodden DePaul (3-28, 0-20) won't really help. A quarterfinal win over Marquette just might.

“In this league you go against some monster coaches, monster teams," Neptune said. “I think we all understand the situation.”


English makes his Big East Tournament coaching debut Wednesday night when Devin Carter and seventh-seeded Providence (19-12, 10-10) open against No. 10 seed Georgetown (9-22, 2-18). Hoyas coach Ed Cooley left his hometown Friars following last season to take the rebuilding job at Georgetown.

The winner gets No. 8 Creighton, led by the terrific trio of Trey Alexander, Baylor Scheierman and three-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kalkbrenner. The second-seeded Bluejays (23-8, 14-6) are 0-4 in Big East championship games.

UConn's Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer and Dan Hurley sweep AP's top individual awards in Big East

Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer and Dan Hurley gave Connecticut a sweep of The Associated Press' top men's basketball honors in the Big East.

Newton is the conference's player of the year, Spencer is newcomer of the year and Hurley is coach of the year in balloting released Tuesday by 11 journalists who cover the conference.

Marquette's Tyler Kolek and Creighton's Ryan Kalkbrenner are repeat selections to the AP All-Big East first team. They're joined by Newton, Providence's Devin Carter and Creighton's Baylor Scheierman. Kolek, the player of the year in 2023, and Carter were unanimous picks.

The first team is guard-heavy. Kolek, Carter and Newton were the top three vote-getters, ahead of big man Kalkbrenner, and Scheierman was well ahead of any forward for the fifth spot.

Newton leads the defending national champion Huskies in scoring (15.0 ppg), rebounding (7.1 rpg) and assists (5.8 apg). He enters the Big East Tournament this week with nine double-doubles, including triple-doubles against Manhattan and Villanova.

Newton, who transferred to UConn from East Carolina two years ago, leads active Division I players with four career triple-doubles and is the only active player with at least 1,800 points, 650 rebounds and 650 assists.

Spencer, in his one and only season at UConn after transferring from Rutgers, is shooting a Big East-leading 45.1% on 3-pointers and averages 14.9 points and 3.3 assists per game.

Hurley, in his sixth year, led the Huskies to a Big East-record 18 conference wins and a school-record 28 regular-season wins. The Huskies' regular-season title was their first since 2006 and first outright title since 1999.

Kolek leads the nation in assists (7.6 apg.) and ranks among the league leaders in six categories and has six double-doubles.

Carter averaged a Big East-leading 21.4 points per game in conference play and is shooting 38.5% on 3-pointers.

Scheierman leads the Big East with 14 double-doubles and averages 18.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Kalkbrenner's 2.97 blocks per game rank second nationally, and Big East coaches named him defensive player of the year for a third straight season. He averages 17.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.


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

u-Guard — Devin Carter, Providence, Jr., 6-3, 195, Miami.

Guard — Tristen Newton, Connecticut, Gr., 6-5, 195, El Paso, Texas.

Guard — Baylor Scheierman, Creighton, Sr., 6-7, 205, Aurora, Nebraska.

Center — Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton, Sr., 7-1, 270, Florissant, Missouri.

—u-denotes unanimous selection


Guard — Kadary Richmond, Seton Hall, Sr., 6-6, 210, Brooklyn, New York.

Guard — Cam Spencer, Connecticut, Gr., 6-4, 205, Davidsonville, Maryland.

Guard — Trey Alexander, Creighton, Jr., 6-4, 190, Oklahoma City.

Forward — Oso Ighodaro, Marquette, Sr., 6-11, 225, Chandler, Arizona.

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


Coach of the year — Dan Hurley, Connecticut.

Player of the year — Tristen Newton, Connecticut.

Newcomer of the year — Cam Spencer, Connecticut.


Nick Bahe, Fox Sports; David Borges, CT Insider (Norwalk, Connecticut); Zach Braziller, New York Post; Jerry Carino, Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press; Shelby Dermer, Cincinnati Enquirer; John Fanta, Fox Sports; Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star; Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times; Kevin McNamara, WPRO (Providence, Rhode Island); Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Jon Walker, Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald.

No. 6 Arizona is the clear favorite to three-peat in Pac-12 Tournament

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Sixth-ranked Arizona not only enters the Pac-12 Tournament as the clear favorite, coach Tommy Lloyd has been unbeaten in this event at T-Mobile Arena.

The Wildcats won the conference tournament the past two seasons, going through UCLA each time.

The Bruins were on Arizona's level, but there is no real equivalent to the Wildcats (24-7) this season with the conference tournament opening Wednesday. No. 22 Washington State (23-8) is the only other ranked Pac-12 team.

“We’re thankful," Lloyd said. “The guys had a great regular season. To win a Pac-12 regular-season conference championship is not something to be taken lightly.”

Arizona will try to become the first team to win three Pac-12 Tournaments in a row since the Wildcats won four straight in 1988-90 and 2002. There were no conference tournaments between 1991-2001.

The Pac-12 announced Tuesday that Arizona senior guard Caleb Love was named player of the year after he averaged 18.7 points. Against Pac-12 teams, he averaged 20 points with a conference-high 59 3-pointers.

Lloyd has a couple of motivational tricks at his disposal. Arizona's last visit to this arena resulted in a 96-95 double-overtime loss to then-No. 14 Florida Atlantic two days before Christmas. That loss gave Lloyd a 9-1 record in Las Vegas. The Owls, coming off a Final Four appearance, have since dropped out of the rankings.

Also, the Wildcats enter the league tournament — the last one for the Pac-12 before 10 teams leave for other conferences — after falling 78-65 to USC on Saturday, ending a stretch in which they had won 10 of 11 games.

“We knew we were given a gift by SC and we can really learn from this,” Lloyd said. "That's going to be our focus.”

Arizona opens its tournament play in Thursday's quarterfinals against the winner of Wednesday's opening-round game between Washington (17-14) and USC (14-17).

Oumar Ballo, who averages 13.1 points and 10.1 rebounds, pointed out that Arizona hasn't lost back-to-back games.

“We're going to respond," Ballo said. "This was a wake-up call for us. This is going to make us better for a deep run in the postseason.”


ESPN's Joe Lunardi forecasts three Pac-12 teams making the NCAA Tournament — Arizona, Washington State and Colorado. Lunardi projects the Buffaloes (22-9) to make the field as a First Four team in Dayton, Ohio.

All three teams are ranked in the top 45 of the NCAA’s NET rankings, which the tournament committee uses as a guide, as well as Kenpom. Utah (18-13) is next at No. 52 in the NET and 51st in Kenpom.

Lunardi predicts six other conferences to send more teams to the tournament than the Pac-12, including the mid-major Mountain West, which has five teams in ESPN’s projection.

Four Pac-12 teams made the tournament last season.

“We’re all too tired to go into this and pound the podium to say, ‘Our league’s been disrespected,’” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “There’s so much manipulation of the NET and so many things that go on in November that have been a massive disadvantage for the Pac-12 in my five years that have caused the disrespect or really the legitimate problems of the Pac-12.”

Cronin said too many Pac-12 schools don't schedule early season games properly, taking losses against mid-major conferences that hurt them in the computer rankings. Those same Pac-12 schools, Cronin said, develop into good teams when conference play begins, but it's too late to affect the rankings.

“You’ve got teams playing road games against (West Coast Conference) teams," Cronin said. "The Big 12 teams don’t play those games.”

Cronin won't have to worry about that next season with the Bruins heading to the Big Ten Conference, which ESPN projects this season to send five teams to the tournament.

“What other teams do in your league affects everybody, and that’s been an issue for five years in this league," Cronin said. "That I will not miss.”


The usual suspects were favored in preseason to win the Pac-12.

Washington State?

Not so much. The Cougars were picked 10th.

They enter the Pac-12 Tournament as the second seed. Washington State plays Thursday against the winner of Wednesday's game between Bay Area rivals California (13-18) and Stanford (13-17).

But the Cougars are coming off a loss to their big rival, Washington, falling 74-68 on Thursday. It's their second loss in four games.

“We're playing with real pressure,” said Washington State's Kyle Smith, the Pac-12 coach of the year. “We're ranked. It's a different space, a different altitude. So maybe that (Washington loss) humbles us a little bit and we're hungrier going down there (to Las Vegas).”


Washington State guard Myles Rice was named conference freshman of the year after finally getting his chance to play following a two-year absence.

Rice redshirted two years ago and didn't play last season because he was receiving treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

When given the chance to finally play, Rice averaged 15.3 points, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals. His 35 points against Stanford on Jan. 18 set the school's freshman single-game scoring record and was the highest total for a conference first-year player since 2017.


Arizona is the only team that has minus odds to win the conference tournament, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Wildcats are minus-150 favorites, meaning a $150 bet pays $100 if it comes in.

Colorado is the next closest at plus-480, which equates to a $100 bet cashing at $480. Washington State is third at plus-700.

UCLA, which has played in the past two tournament championship games, is plus-4,000.

Arizona's Caleb Love wins AP Pac-12 player and newcomer of the year in first season with Wildcats

Caleb Love had quite a first season at Arizona.

Love was named The Associated Press Pac-12 men’s college basketball player and newcomer of the year on Tuesday by a panel of media members who cover the conference. Washington State's Kyle Smith was named coach of the year.

Love spent his first three seasons at North Carolina, making a name for himself by hitting big shots during the Tar Heels' run to the 2022 national championship game.

Wanting a new challenge, Love opted to transfer to Arizona, where he implored coach Tommy Lloyd and his staff to coach him hard. Love fit perfectly into Lloyd's team-first philosophy, playing within the framework of the offense while still asserting himself as the Wildcats' go-to player.

The 6-foot-4 guard helped lead No. 6 Arizona to the final Pac-12 regular-season championship and a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Love led the Wildcats and was the Pac-12's fourth-leading scorer with a career-best 18.7 points per game. He had the best shooting season of his career at 43% and helped Arizona in many other ways, averaging 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

Smith ushered in a breakthrough season at Washington State. Picked to finish 10th in the preseason poll, the Cougars were one of the biggest surprises in college basketball.

Washington State swept the season series with a sweep of Arizona, including a 77-71 victory at McKale Center. The Cougars moved into the AP Top 25 for the first time in 16 years at No. 21 on Feb. 19 and are No. 18 heading into this week's Pac-12 Tournament. Washington State finished the regular season 23-7 and its 14 Pac-12 wins match the program's most in a conference season.


u-Guard — KJ Simpson, Colorado, Jr., 6-2, 189, West Hills, Calif.

Guard — Caleb Love, Arizona, Sr., 6-4, 205, St. Louis.

Guard — Jaylon Tyson, Jr., 6-7, 215, Plano, Texas

u-Forward — Keion Brooks, Jr., Washington, 6-7, 210, Fort Wayne, Ind.

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

—u-unanimous selection.


Guard — Jordan Pope, Oregon St, Soph, 6-2, 165, Oakley, Calif.

Guard — Boogie Ellis, USC, Sr., 6-3, 190, San Diego.

Guard — Myles Rice, Washington State, freshman, 6-3, 180, Columbia, S.C.

Forward — Isaac Jones, Washington State, Sr., 6-9, 245, Spanaway, Wash.

Forward — Branden Carlson, Utah, Sr., 7-0, 220, South Jordan, Utah


Player of the year — Caleb Love, Arizona.

Coach of the year — Kyle Smith, Washington State.

Newcomer of the year — Caleb Love, Arizona.

Denver fends off Omaha 66-63 in Summit League Tournament semifinal

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Tommy Bruner had 23 points and Denver held off Omaha 66-63 on Monday night in the semifinals of the Summit League Tournament.

Denver advances to play South Dakota State in Tuesday's championship game with an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

Bruner shot 7 of 15 from the field, including 5 for 11 from 3-point range, and went 4 for 7 from the line for the Pioneers (17-16). DeAndre Craig added 15 points and five assists. Isaiah Carr shot 4 of 8 from the field to finish with nine points.

Frankie Fidler led the way for the Mavericks (15-18) with 27 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Omaha also got 12 points from Tony Osburn. Marquel Sutton had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Bruner scored 14 points in the first half and Denver went into halftime trailing 34-32. Denver pulled off the victory after a 9-0 second-half run erased a seven-point deficit and gave them the lead at 46-44 with 12:36 remaining in the half. Craig scored 10 second-half points.