MU To Host 2017 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Tournament
June 1, 2016
Release courtesy BIG EAST Conference office
Marquette University has been selected to host the 2017 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Tournament, as the Conference's postseason championship will be played at an on-campus arena for the second consecutive year. Approved by the league's athletic directors at the recent BIG EAST summer meeting, the Golden Eagles will welcome all 10 BIG EAST teams to the Al McGuire Center, which is located in the heart of Marquette's Milwaukee campus. The BIG EAST Women's Basketball Tournament is scheduled for March 4-7, 2017.
"The BIG EAST is very proud to bring our 2017 Women's Basketball Tournament to Marquette University and `The Al,' and we look forward to working with Bill Scholl and his staff in planning this marquee championship competition," said BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman. "Our student-athletes, coaches and supporters can count on an exciting in-arena atmosphere, a first-class operation and all the amenities that the great city of Milwaukee has to offer, led by a program that's on the rise. In short, this will be a terrific event for the conference and our schools."
BIG EAST regular-season champion DePaul hosted the BIG EAST Tournament in 2016 at McGrath-Phillips Arena, marking the first on-campus conference postseason since 2003. The league tourney was played on campus sites for the first 21 years (1983-2003), rotating across 10 different campuses, including the courts of five current members. The BIG EAST Tournament was moved to off-campus locations in 2004, remaining at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., through 2013. Allstate Arena in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill., was home of the tournament for the first two seasons following reconfiguration, before moving to DePaul last year.
Opened in October 2003, "The Al" is named after legendary basketball coach Al McGuire, who led the Marquette men's basketball program to an NCAA championship, an NIT title and 295 victories in 13 seasons. The $31 million practice and play facility features a 3,700 seat arena where both women's basketball and women's volleyball compete and includes the full-sized practice gym upgraded in 2008. The BIG EAST Volleyball Championship has been held at the Al McGuire Center four times, including most recently in 2014. Marquette has consistently been among the league leaders in women's basketball attendance, with over 20,000 fans passing through the doors during 2015-16 season.
"We are very excited that Marquette University has been awarded the opportunity to host the 2017 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Tournament," Marquette Vice President and Director of Athletics Bill Scholl stated. "Milwaukee is a fantastic city, and we believe our visitors will really enjoy their time here. It is a privilege to host this premier women's basketball event, and I know that our staff will do an excellent job in welcoming all 10 BIG EAST teams to the Al McGuire Center. It is a great opportunity for our program."
Led by second-year head coach Carolyn Kieger, Marquette boasted Division I's youngest lineup in 2015-16 which included eight freshmen and no seniors. After being picked ninth in the BIG EAST Preseason Poll, the Golden Eagles surprised many with notable wins over the likes of Wisconsin, Auburn, St. John's and Seton Hall, three of which were either ranked in the top 25 or receiving votes at the time. Marquette went on to finish in a tie for fifth place in the conference standings, and Kieger welcomes back all letterwinners from that squad for this upcoming season, including reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Allazia Blockton.
All 10 teams qualify for the BIG EAST Tournament, with the top six teams receiving first-round byes. DePaul won back-to-back titles at Allstate Arena in 2014 and 2015 before St. John's claimed its fourth conference championship and first since 1988 this past March in Chicago.
GOMARQUETTE.COM THE OFFICIAL HOME OF MARQUETTE ATHLETICS