The last three tournament games at MSG were three first-round games in 1961. In a tripleheader, Wake Forest defeated St. John's 97-74, St. Bonaventure beat Rhode Island 86-76 and Princeton topped George Washington 84-67.
Art Hyland, the Big East conference's longtime director of officiating, was the captain of that Princeton team and scored 16 points in the game against George Washington.
"I don't remember anything I did in that game, to be honest with you," Hyland said. "The things that I remember about the old Garden? No. 1, the smoke; the smoke was incredible. I used to go there to watch NIT games too, and we'd go there the whole day and watch, and you had to look through the cloud of smoke at the top of the arena, because in those days you could smoke."
"And then the infamous bank of telephones in the areas where the concession stands [were]," Hyland added. "And the telephones were normally filled just before game time." (Presumably by people placing bets.)
Calhoun never coached an NCAA tournament game at the Garden, but he was a part of numerous historic Big East tournament games in the building -- from the epic battle between Ray Allen and Allen Iverson in 1996 to the six-overtime game against Syracuse in 2009 to UConn's incredible five-wins-in-five-days run in 2011.
The Huskies will play in Friday night's first game against Iowa State, and Calhoun couldn't sound more excited.
"When they use the word the mecca of college basketball, this was it," he said. "This has been it, and it will be it. It's an incredible, incredible place."