Big East Final takeaways: Marquette rides talent, teamwork to crown


Back in the fall, Shaka Smart took his Marquette team on a retreat for a weekend. The goal? Establish roles and accountability for the 2022-23 edition of the Golden Eagles. 

On Saturday night inside Madison Square Garden, with 13 minutes left in the Big East Tournament Championship Game, the No. 6 team in the land used its hustle to produce three looks at the basket. On the third shot, Big East Sixth Man of the Year David Joplin swished home a triple and took a moment to flash a smile to the sea of blue and gold in the crowd.

[Shaka Smart and Marquette: The perfect fit at the perfect time]

Joplin, who has embodied the Golden Eagles’ culture of embracing roles, had that ear-to-ear grin because Marquette was ahead of Xavier 54-27 with 13:18 left in regulation. 


The sacrifices made, and the culture instilled by second-year head coach Smart were all changes needed to address last season’s 3-6 finish. All of that came to fruition in New York City on Saturday night.

Marquette had its crowning moment as a member of the Big East, earning its first tournament crown since joining the league in 2005 with an emphatic 65-51 win over the 15th-ranked Musketeers.

Big East Final: Marquette, Xavier 

The Golden Eagles never trailed.

Marquette vs. Xavier highlights

Tyler Kolek scored 20 points to lead Marquette.

Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek was named Most Outstanding Player, capping off a run of 56 points, 21 rebounds and 13 assists over the three wins. 

The rise of Marquette all goes back to Smart, who tied the legendary Al McGuire with the most victories in a single season at Marquette with 28. 

The Golden Eagles, a projected 2-seed in Mike DeCourcy’s latest bracket forecast, showed on Saturday night that a Final Four can be possible in Milwaukee this year. 

Marquette hoists the trophy

The Golden Eagles celebrated after winning the Big East conference title. Tyler Kolek was also awarded Most Outstanding Player.

More to come from Madison Square Garden …

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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