The prelude is over. An unpredictable regular season of college hoops reached its conclusion this weekend, setting the stage for one of basketball's most unique events—the Big East Tournament.
Decades of star players, celebrated coaches and riveting moments make the conference tourney must-see entertainment each March. Fittingly, the drama unfolds under the bright lights of basketball cathedral Madison Square Garden.
The 2013 Big East Tournament takes on extra significance this year. The conference is approaching a messy breakup that will send shockwaves through the national college basketball spectrum, and this is the final goodbye for a number of longtime Big East programs.
Action begins Tuesday, as 14 teams enter the fray in pursuit of a conference championship. Perennial power Connecticut will sit out of the tournament this year due to a postseason ban that stems from an unsatisfactory Academic Progress Rate.
With the tournament's opening round rapidly approaching, here's a look at how the contenders stack up.