Well, it's quasi-official? On Twitter, Brian Snow of Scout released what is apparently the inaugural lineup for the Big Ten-Big East Challenge, more formally known as the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Here's the lineup:
B1G v Big East Xavier @ Michigan Creighton @ Ind Rutgers @ St. John's Ill @ Prov Neb @ Nova Penn St vs DePaul Iowa vs Marquette G'town vs MD— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) April 21, 2015
Per ESPN, all games hosted at a B1G site will be televised on ESPN or BTN, while all games hosted at a Big East site will be shown on Fox Sports 1. With that said, what do we think of the games?
Overall Grade: C+
Understanding that each Big Ten team needs to play at least 4 games over the next 8 years in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, there are only so many attractive matchups you can find. Yet, outside a rivalry matchup, a "rivalry" matchup, and a couple intriguing games, this slate is still underwhelming.
1. Georgetown @ Maryland
There will be blood. There will be so, so, so much blood. And it's in College Park? And the Terrapins will go to Georgetown as part of a home-and-home in 2016? This is Christmas for East Coasters. And it's Christmas for those who love good, hard-nosed, "We hate you, you hate us" basketball. This is an easy #1 on the list. ESPN primetime, Dick Vitale or similar commentators in attendance. Book it. And tune in.
2. Iowa @ Marquette
Maybe this is my bias as a current Golden Eagle shining through, but I absolutely want to go watch this game. Iowa will be looking to bounce back from the losses of seniors like Aaron White, Gabe Olaseni, and Josh Oglesby, and Marquette will enter with a Top-10 national recruiting class buoyed by Rice Lake's own Henry Ellenson. Except a fast-paced-yet-bruising showdown in Milawukee, and book your spot to sleep on my couch now!
3. Xavier @ Michigan
A Michigan team now returning Chris LeVert is set up to host a Musketeers squad which attended the Big Dance in 2015, setting this matchup up as the chance for the Wolverines to bounce back from a dreadful 2014-15 campaign. Unfortunately there won't be a Matt Stainbrook presence inside for the Musketeers, but this will be a fun outside-shooting extravaganza.
4. Creighton @ Indiana
Creighton's brand has taken a hit with the departure of Dougie McBuckets for other pastures (get it? He's a Bull now. I'm here all week, folks.), but the Jays will still prevent an intriguing matchup for the Hoosiers, who are fresh off an
undeserved NCAA tournament bid.
5. Rutgers @ St. John's
RIVALRY! THE BATTLE FOR NEW YORK! What's that, Syracuse? No, shut up. These two teams are fighting for New York. What's better: a Scarlet Knight, or a Red Storm? How much red can one arena handle? THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS.
6. Nebraska @ Villanova
A Nebraska team that has now lost Terran Pettaway, Walter Pitchford, and two coaches will travel to face a Jay Wright-led team fresh off a season in which they got a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament (to say nothing of their being overrated). I mean, sometimes a #beatemdown is fun, right?
I mean, at least let Penn State take an in-state beating, huh?
7. Illinois @ Providence
It's possible I would be more likely to watch this if it was hockey. A 'meh' Illinois team travels to take on a Providence squad that, while coming off a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament, lost an uninspiring matchup to Dayton. A game made for Providence and FS1, if there ever was one.
8. DePaul vs. Penn State