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How we see the Big East: Excitement builds for Gavitt Tipoff Games

[caption id="attachment_14197" align="alignnone" width="600"]Big Ten Conference Big Ten Conference[/caption]

  Just a few weeks after a memorable March Madness finale, the media is already releasing new information to feed hungry college hoops fans. Last week the match-ups of the Second Annual Gavitt Games were reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, and fans are fired up. The Gavitt Games is an eight-game series featuring some of the top basketball programs from the Big East and Big Ten conferences as they battle for early boosts in RPI. The event started last year and was met with much success. It will continue an eight-year run through 2022. This series of games honors Dave Gavitt, former athletic director of Providence and the first commis- sioner of the Big East. Analysts and fans alike are already cooking up serious interest and speculation for the slate of games, as the series features eight participants from March Madness, including the National Champion Villanova Wildcats.
Anticipation already builds for what may be the most intriguing matchup between Purdue and Nova. Jay Wright’s Wildcats will look quite different come November, as they lose their heart and soul in Ryan Arcidiacono, leading rebounder Daniel Ochefu and possibly leading scorer Josh Hart, who declared for the NBA draft. The Wildcats will return Kris Jenkins and Phil Booth, who both played vital roles in beating UNC in the championship game. Having recruited Omari Spellman, the No. 16 player in the country, according to ESPN, won’t hurt either.
The Boilermakers had an early exit from March Madness, but this is not a team to sleep on, even with the absence of NBA-bound senior A.J. Hammons. With fingers crossed, Purdue hopes to return key contributors Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan. The addition of ESPN Top 100 recruit Carsen Edwards will strengthen the back-court.
No matter how the rosters stand, this will likely be a crucial early season game for both teams. Another interesting contest remains in a rematch of the 75-71 thriller between Maryland and Georgetown from the previous Gavitt Games. Last year, the contest was held in College Park, where the third- ranked Terps were nearly upset in their own house. This year, Georgetown will host the game, and after a challenging season in the Big East, the Hoyas are ready to secure the upset against a Maryland squad likely missing some of last year’s top performers.
Additionally, the Seton Hall Pi- rates will make their debut in the Gavitt Games as they square off with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa has been building momentum, but is graduating four seniors who averaged 25 minutes or more per game. The Pirates are returning nearly the entire team, but the true X-factor of the Hall’s season lies in the draft decision of sophomore sensation Isaiah Whitehead.
Beyond the more anticipated matchups, any of the games could become instant classics, including Northwestern at Butler, Providence at Ohio State, Rutgers at DePaul, St. John’s at Minnesota, and Wisconsin at Creighton.
What can be expected from the Gavitt Games? Great competition, a showcase of upperclassmen in news roles, and an early look at freshman ready to change the dynamic of their team.   Kyle Kasharian can be reached at or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash

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