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UConn outlasts Marquette to win Big East tourney, make case for No. 1 overall seed

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 16: Jaylin Stewart #3 and Hassan Diarra #10 of the Connecticut Huskies react in the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the Big East Basketball Tournament Final at Madison Square Garden on March 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
UConn is sitting pretty heading into Selection Sunday. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) (Sarah Stier via Getty Images)

UConn won the Big East men's basketball tournament on Saturday. We'll find out if the Huskies won the No. 1 overall seed of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.

The Huskies, seeded No. 1 in the Big East, rallied in the second half to put away No. 3 seed Marquette and add one more item to their March Madness résumé. Even more helpful for UConn was a game that finished less than an hour beforehand: Houston, UConn's biggest competition for the No. 1 overall seed, was blown out 69-41 by Iowa State in the Big 12 final.

The NCAA tournament bracket will be revealed at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.

It was a slow start for UConn and Marquette at Madison Square Garden, with the two teams combining to go 1-for-17 from the field to open the game. UConn's Samson Johnson connected on a dunk with 13:29 remaining in the first half to tie the game 2-2.

Things thankfully picked up from there, with nine lead changes and no deficit larger than four points for the rest of the half. UConn entered halftime up 26-24 and exchanged the lead a few more times before finding the kind of groove that won it so many games in the regular season.

A 19-5 Huskies run midway through the second half put the game out of reach, with Jaylin Stewart and Tristen Newton doing almost all of the damage.

The biggest difference-maker of the game was UConn big man Donovan Clingan, who led the team with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 16 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

This is UConn's first Big East tournament title since Kemba Walker's immortal run in 2011 (the program spent seven seasons in the AAC in that time span). It is also the program's eighth title, tying it with Georgetown for the most in conference history.

UConn vs. Houston March Madness résumés

UConn

Record: 31-3 (18-2 conference)
Tournament: Won Big East
Quad 1 record: 13-3
Quad 2-4 record: 18-0
Strength of schedule: 27
Losses: Kansas, Seton Hall, Creighton

Houston

Record: 30-4 (15-3 conference)
Tournament: Lost Big 12 final
Quad 1 record: 16-4
Quad 2-4 record: 14-0
Strength of schedule: 14
Losses: Iowa State (twice), TCU, Kansas