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What should the 2017 Gavitt Games look like?

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And why haven’t we found out yet about the annual Big Ten-Big East basketball competition?

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Wait a minute. This isn’t about Illinois.

You’re right! It’s not! It’s shootyhoops. If that’s not your think, we’ve got two excellent pieces on Illinois football in 2017 (Thump’s preview and our potluck). Might I recommend you enjoy those? Hell, you can even go enjoy pingybats!

For the rest of us who have stuck around, the currently-deadlocked at 0-0-2 Gavitt Tipoff Games have still not been released for 2017. For comparison, they were announced in April 2015 and the first week of May 2016. No doubt there’s still time before it’s really annoying, but I’m looking forward to these matchups and hope we’ll hear something soon.

Our friends at Big East Coast Bias are speculating it’s due to a hangup over Michigan State’s non-conference tournament:

Click on that embedded tweet to follow all their logic (and give them a follow)!

To that end, I thought a little rampant speculation about the Gavitt Games would be amusing. Walk with me, will you?

So what do we know?

Honestly, not a ton. It’s a lot of blog rumors and pattern recognition to this point, and that doesn’t reveal a ton for the games.

In the Big Ten, I am taking two not-so-wild leaps of faith here:

  • Michigan State (0 appearances) will play a game
  • No team from the B1G that has appeared twice (rutger, Iowa, Maryland) will play in 2017

I don’t know (or care, I guess, save for my Marquette interest) as much about the Big East, but we’ve been able to discern a couple things:

  • Creighton sports outlet White and Blue Review cites “(coach Mack)” as a reason Xavier will not play in the 2017 Gavitt Games, and since the Two Blog Source Rule is in effect with this comment section apparently citing his radio show, sure. Let’s take that as a rule.
  • Providence will not be playing in 2017 due to their schedule. That sets the 8 teams from the Big East, taken with the Xavier news.
  • Rumors place Marquette both traveling to or hosting Minnesota and hosting Northwestern. (Yes, I linked to Gopher Hole. Please don’t @ me.)
  • Seems likely that Butler will be on the road.
  • Generally, I’m avoiding any matchups that could also occur in a non-conference tournament (there’s a post on those coming, too): Michigan-Marquette, Butler-MSU, OSU-G’town, Nebraska-St. John’s, Purdue-Villabova, and wisconsin-Creighton.

So what would make for a good Gavitt Games?

If I were to pick 8 teams based on the criteria above, here’s my slate:

DePaul Blue Demons at Illinois Fighting Illini

Look, they can’t all be winners, OK? You could just as easily substitute Nebraska for Illinois here and get another one of those shitty ones out of the way. There’s intrigue here and you could flip the host, I guess, to fill DePaul’s shiny new stadium with Illini fans, though that’s messing with the home-away trend, I think.

Either way, there’s a little regional intrigue here and Illinois should be improving under Brad Underwood, while DePaul...yeah.

Penn State Nittany Lions at St. John’s Red Storm

Again, regional intrigue! Bring this one to Madison Square Garden and see just how empty you can actually make it?

Now, mind you, with Penn State’s youth movement of Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, and Mike Watkins entering its sophomore campaign, I’d be really curious to see them go up against St. John’s own youth movement of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett. Could be a triple-digit fireworks display in the Garden.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Creighton Bluejays

I don’t know. Seems like Minnesota should keep playing teams from the Plains. I don’t buy the Minnesota-Marquette rumors, though I see why people are making them. Both teams hosted last year, too, meaning...well, this is all conjecture anyways.

Seems like Creighton would provide a good enough test for the Gophers, and I like keeping the regional angle. I look forward to being roundly criticized for this one.

Purdue Boilermakers at Seton Hall Pirates

I had Purdue just kind of sitting there on my list, staring me in the face. A return trip to Villanova was intriguing but didn’t feel likely to me, and given that Butler’s out, the Big Ten champions kind of fell here. There’s a shuffle to be made where they would head to Milwaukee, but humor me.

Of course, given that Angel Delgado is likely headed to the NBA Draft, this got much less interesting (I’d love to watch Delgado and Caleb Swanigan go at it for 40 sweaty minutes), but the Hall is bringing in a 6’11” Georgian who could also be a fun test for the Boilers’ size.

Northwestern Wildcats at Marquette Golden Eagles

You knew it was building to this, right?

It’s time. It’s just plain time for a Marquette-Northwestern matchup, which hasn’t happened since December 3, 1994, a 94-60 win for the Golden Eagles.

Flex this one out all sexy. You’ve got Dookie-on-Dookie action. You’ve got Just-Made-the-NCA Tournament Northwestern, all shiny still (hopefully), traveling to “Are They Back?” Marquette. Threes will be splashed all over the place. Most importantly, I will attend in purple and give the finger to all my students.

Butler Bulldogs at wisconsin badgers

This will be a fucking terrible game to watch. Over/under on scrappy gym rats who bring their lunch pails taking a charge will be 25.5.

That, of course, means this needs to happen.

Indiana Hoosiers at Georgetown Hoyas

I dunno, these are two names, I guess? They went very different directions with their coaching searches, but Archie Miller vs. Patrick Ewing would be a fun watch, and maybe an Indiana home date would bring some of the Hoya faithful back to the Verizon Center.

Regardless, this is one of those matchups that I think still has some luster to it, even if both squads are definitely not what they used to be.

Villanova Wildcats at Michigan State Spartans

This one is self-explanatory, right? I look forward to the year where Michigan State finds a way to go 2-11 in the non-conference and still make the NCAA Tournament.


Those of you hungry for some squeakyfouls, let us know your thoughts in the comments! Any good gossip you’ve heard? Who would you match up in the Gavitt Tipoff Games?