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There's Nothing Like The Big East

“Welcome to Madison Square Garden: the World’s Most Famous Arena”.

You'll never hear a more iconic phrase in any other arena than in the Garden — it’s the mecca for a reason, basketball’s Sydney Opera House.

What hasn’t happened at MSG?

From athletes to musicians, MSG acts as a right of passage to supplant one's superstar status. Every opposing NHL and NBA star loves to play at the Garden; just ask Michael Jordan, who admitted in 1997 that MSG was his favorite place to play.

Then you have the Big East tournament. Even on day one, when the low seeds play, MSG is close to total capacity. It’s a real “who's who” of college basketball, both on the sidelines and on the court.

Remember that St. John’s has also played a good chunk of their home games at the Garden. Rick Pitino may appear to be glitz and glamor, perhaps even primed for a role in Hollywood, but his studio for those epic scenes in his works will be Madison Square Garden.

There’s nothing like the Big East, there’s nothing like the Big East Tournament, and there is no venue more centric to it's conference tournament than Madison Square Garden.

Allow me to introduce myself, friends.

I’m Thomas Aiello — a recent graduate of Fordham University and a proud alum of WFUV Sports.

I played all the sports growing up: baseball, basketball, soccer, track, you name it. Football was the one thing I never played, but I’m sure if I did, I would’ve enjoyed it.

In high school, I played AAU. Our program ended up on the Under Armour circuit my last year (I never played in the D1 showcases; I wasn’t THAT good), but for those three years of high school, my mind was in one place: basketball. I didn’t care for the other sports at all. All I cared for were the Knicks and the NBA.

Then I arrived at Fordham. When I started to find my footing in college, I realized that if I wanted to make it in this industry, I had to do a few things: devote most of my time to my on-air/writing craft and become well-versed in a majority of sports.

It took a pandemic and a lot of soul-searching, but I also discovered two essential truths:

  1. Be yourself: The truth can hurt. I know this better than anyone, but I believe people should know what they need to hear to improve, and it should always come from a place of love.

  2. Always remember where you came from.

I wrote about this in more detail on another site, but since I could breathe, I was going to see Fordham Hoops at the historic Rose Hill gym, now dubbed “Rose Thrill.” The Atlantic 10 has been a part of me forever, and it will remain that way even if my friends find my passion a little mental (you guys know who you are).

When Kyle Neptune showed up in the Bronx, there was a rush of emotions that hit me. It was almost as if a message came from up high. Everything, and everyone, who I had known at that school — from players, coaches, administrators, and alum — it all came back to me.

College hoops has always been in my life— I happened to be pretty good at baseball, the first sport I played for most of my life — but the appeal of college basketball couldn’t overshadow anything else; the environment, the rivalries, the fans, all of it.

So, what’s an Atlantic 10 guy doing writing for a Big East website?

I love the Big East. It’s the best conference in college basketball, with no actual comprehensible argument to make against it. I love the allure, the stage, the people, the players. It’s such a great thing to be a part of.

The locality of this conference hits close to home for me. Most of the teams, past and present, are places I’ve visited and whose hoops culture I have fully digested. Does this mean I’m letting go of the Atlantic 10? Not a chance. I’m forever attached at the hip to that conference, especially Fordham.

But the Big East and I were always close friends.

I’ve gone to MSG for various St. John’s vs Fordham matchups, a few Seton Hall games at the Rock, as well as the thriller at MSG when the Pirates beat Kentucky in 2018. I’ve seen UConn, Marquette, Providence, and Creighton play at the Big East Tournament. I grew up with Xavier in the A-10, then watched them blossom into a Big East powerhouse, and Villanova raise one last Big East tournament title under Jay Wright.

Who could forget the exuberant personalities that Dave Gavitt brought together? Thompson, Massimino, Pitino, McGuire, Carnasecca, I could go forever.

I can’t wait to begin writing about this conference and join a talented team of writers and personalities.

When it comes to the Big East Tournament, you just have to be there.

Well, here I am.

Onward to the 2023-24 season, with much love,


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