The 2008 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament, a part of the 2007-08 NCAA Division I men's basketball season, took place from March 12–March 15, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Its winner received the Big East Conference's automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament. It is a single-elimination tournament with four rounds and the four highest seeds received byes in the first round. The 12 Big East teams with the best conference records were invited to participate. Georgetown, the Big East regular season winner, received the number one seed in the tournament.
The first round of the tournament saw no upsets, as each of the higher seeds won their games. However, the second round had three of the four lower seeds winning their games. In the semi-finals, number one seed, Georgetown, easily won, while the seventh seed, Pittsburgh, won in a close game. The two teams played each other for the tournament championship and Pittsburgh was victorious, winning the conference's automatic bid. After the tournament, eight of the teams that participated were invited to the NCAA Tournament. It was Pittsburgh's second Big East Tournament championship.
Before the beginning of the season the league's coaches voted Georgetown, the 2006-07 Big East regular season and tournament winner, and Louisville to share the conference title. Additionally, it was decided that each team's conference schedule would expand from 16 to 18 games so all of the teams would play each other. Fifteen Big East teams reached the beginning of their conference schedules with winning records, with four teams having only one loss and three others with only two losses. The out of conference schedule for the league included four teams playing in the inaugural Big East/SEC Invitational, where they went 3–1, and two teams beating top–10 ranked teams. At the end of conference play, Georgetown, who was ranked tenth in the Coaches Poll, won the regular season title. Six teams ended the season ranked, while eight ended with over 20 wins. The top–12 teams in the standings were invited to the tournament.Rankings reflect Coaches Poll as of March 10, 2008
The twelve teams that were invited to the tournament were seeded according to their records. Georgetown's win of the regular season title entitled the team to the top seed. Louisville and Notre Dame finished the season tied in second, a game behind Georgetown, but Louisville's win over Notre Dame on February 28 gave them the advantage and the second seed and Notre Dame the third seed. Connecticut, two games behind Georgetown, got the fourth seed, and the final first round bye. West Virginia and Marquette both finished four games behind Georgetown in fifth place, but West Virginia's win over Marquette on January 6 granted them the fifth seed and Marquette the sixth. Pittsburgh finished five games behind Georgetown and were awarded the seventh seed. Villanova and Syracuse both finished six games behind Georgetown and split games in the regular season. The tie-breaking rules of the conference are based on wins over the top conference opponents, and, although Syracuse beat Georgetown on February 16, both teams also lost to Georgetown, so Syracuse does not have an advantage in that case. Villanova's win over Connecticut, coupled with Syracuse's loss, gave Villanova the advantage and eighth seed and Syracuse the ninth seed. Cincinnati, at seven games behind Georgetown, and Seton Hall, at eight games behind, received the tenth and eleventh seeds, respectively. Providence and DePaul finished nine games behind Georgetown, but Providence's win on February 5, gave the team the twelfth seed, the final position in the tournament.
The first round of the tournament was played on March 12 with each of the higher seeds winning. The day started with Villanova playing Syracuse, in what was called an elimination game for the NCAA Tournament. Although Syracuse held a one-point lead at half-time, Villanova took an early lead in the second half and never trailed again, winning 82–63. In the second game of the day, Providence played West Virginia. The teams both struggled throughout the game with both having scoreless streaks, but West Virginia prevailed in the end to win 58–53. In the third game of the day Cincinnati played Pittsburgh. Although the teams stayed close throughout, Pittsburgh won the game 70–64. In the final game of the day Marquette played Seton Hall. Marquette won the game by holding Seton Hall scoreless through the last five minutes of the game to finish 67–54.
The second round of the tournament was played on March 13, and three of the four lower seeds won their games. The first game of the day featured Villanova facing the number one seed, Georgetown. Despite top-scorer Roy Hibbert not scoring the entire game, Georgetown won the game, 82–63, tying a tournament record with 17 three-point field goals. In the second game West Virginia played Connecticut. Although it was close for the majority of the game, West Virginia's six point half-time lead was enough to win the game, 78–72, the first upset of the tournament. In the third game Pittsburgh faced Louisville, a team they had knocked out of the tournament the previous two years. Although Pittsburgh had the largest lead in regulation at eight points, the game was tied at the end of the second half and it continued to overtime. Pittsburgh finally pulled away in the overtime period, and won 76–69. In the final game of the round, Marquette played Notre Dame. Notre Dame had a six-point lead at half-time even though conference Player of the Year, Luke Harangody, had only played for seven minutes. However, Marquette's Jerel McNeal, who had 21 points in the team's first win, scored 28 to lead Marquette to an 89–79 victory.
The semi-finals began with top-seed Georgetown facing West Virginia. The game was close early, but five minutes before half-time, Georgetown went on a scoring run and led 33–21 at the half. West Virginia came back and brought their deficit to six points halfway through the second period, however Georgetown never relinquished their lead. Led by Hibbert's 25 points in his double-double, Georgetown won 72–55 to return to the championship game for the second consecutive year. In the second game of the day, Marquette faced Pittsburgh. Early in the game Pittsburgh took a 12 point lead and kept a double-digit lead throughout the half. Marquette cut their deficit during the second period and had the score within three points with a minute remaining in the game. However, Pittsburgh kept their lead with free throw shooting and won the game 68–61, advancing to the championship game for the seventh time in eight years.
Pittsburgh faced Georgetown in a repeat of the championship game of the 2007 tournament. Throughout the first half the lead changed hands six times, with Georgetown having the largest lead of six points. Pittsburgh, however, led at half-time by three. Although Georgetown would bring their deficit to two early in the second half, Pittsburgh never relinquished the lead after half-time. Pittsburgh's Sam Young led the team with a double-double to help secure their win, the school's second overall and first for coach Jamie Dixon.
After the championship game Sam Young, who led Pittsburgh to the win and led the tournament in scoring with 80 points, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Young was joined by his teammate Levance Fields, Georgetown's Jessie Sapp and Roy Hibbert, West Virginia's Joe Alexander, and Marquette's Jerel McNeal to the All-Tournament Team.
In addition to Pittsburgh's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, seven other conference teams were given at-large bids in the field, tying the conference record of eight teams in the tournament. Georgetown got the highest seed of the conference with a 2 seed and Louisville got a 3 seed. Both Pittsburgh and Connecticut were given 4 seeds and Notre Dame got a 5 seed. Marquette was given a 6 seed and West Virginia got a 7 seed. Finally, Villanova was given a 12 seed and was the final at-large team invited to the tournament. Although Syracuse was not invited to the NCAA Tournament, they were the only team from the conference invited to the 2008 National Invitation Tournament.