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Gavitt Tipoff Games: Big Ten-Big East Basketball Preview, Open Thread

Is the Big Ten the best basketball conference in the country? We’ll start finding out this week:

Tonight! Basketball! Let’s talk about it.

Gavitt Games

Writers: Assess the state Big Ten as a basketball conference.

How do you think the conference stacks up nationally, and particularly in comparison to the Big East, now that the conference has added a program like UConn?

BoilerUp89: I don’t think UConn changes the status of the Big East. It’s a power conference with or without them. It’s won multiple national championships since the Big Ten last did. The Big East’s current problem is they have a large amount of mediocre coaches (Xavier, Georgetown, Butler to name the ones off the top of my head).

Buffkomodo: This year, I’m thinking that the B1G stacks up pretty well. While UConn has historically been a great program, over the past few years it’s been rough going. When you look at the roster of Big East teams vs B1G teams this year, you start to get a ways down the B1G before you would start considering Big East teams to be better overall. I think the B1G is just much better overall this year.

Obviously, the history with Villanova and UConn over the past 20 years is much kinder compared to the B1G though. Indiana, Illinois, Michigan (x2), Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State have all been in the championship game in the past 20 years. ‘Cuse, Uconn (x3), and Villanova (x2) have won it all out of the Big East in the same timeframe. 6 champions in 20 years vs 7 runner up finishes? Yeah. The Big East is kicking the B1G’s collective ass.

Jesse: I legit don’t know what to say other than my ‘Current Big East’ knowledge is basically that Villanova is good, and that Creighton will peak somewhere in late January, only to come crashing back to earth on either a round 2 or round 3 exit that surprises everyone for some reason. Also, the whole natty thing doesn’t look good comparing the two so let’s move on.

Kind of...: The B1G title drought has not been fun, but the B1G is an excellent hoops conference. Conferences don’t win titles; programs do.

Could/should some B1G school have been able to do what Baylor or Virginia did? Sure. There’s some bad luck/bad timing involved (‘05 Illinois, ‘07 OSU, and ‘15 UW are all better than 50% of the teams that have won a title the last 20 years). But, again, the conference is probably the deepest in the country, will send a bunch of teams to the tournament, and, though none of them will probably win the title, Michigan and Purdue have a fighting chance if things break right.

RU in VA: We all know what happened last year. The B1G was the best, and then dicktripped all over the place.

I think, that the B1G is the best basketball conference. Will they beat teams in other conferences? I don’t know. I need to see more of UCLA, Alabama, and teams like Marquette and Villanova before I really know anything.


Is the Big Ten the best conference in basketball?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Yes: conferences don’t win titles; programs do.
    (148 votes)
  • 44%
    No: count those rings, baby.
    (121 votes)
269 votes total Vote Now

Previews of the Gavitt Games

Ed. note: We’ll continue to update these and bump this to the top as the week wears on.

#11 Illinois Fighting Illini at Marquette Golden Eagles

Monday, Nov. 15 | 6pm | FS1 | Illinois -8.5 | O/U 143

MNW: It’s Shaka Smart time and YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles are ready to dance.

Former Terp Darryl Morsell is leading the way in Milwaukee, but the Golden Eagles haven’t really put anyone away yet—both SIU Edwardsville and New Hampshire hung around for a while. Thank goodness Kofi Cockburn is still ineligible, because Marquette wouldn’t have the size to bang with him.

Regardless, it’s all whether Marquette can impose their style on Illinois. I doubt they can, and they’re not defending or rebounding terribly well, so this one could get out of hand.


Pick this one:

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Illinois by 8.5 or more
    (7 votes)
  • 35%
    Illinois by less than 8.5
    (5 votes)
  • 14%
    YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles
    (2 votes)
14 votes total Vote Now

Providence Friars at wisconsin Badgers

Monday, Nov. 15 | 8pm | FS1 | wisc -7 | O/U 132

Kind of...: Ed Cooley is a widely respected coach and Nate Watson is a rugged big who will challenge UW’s Steven Crowl, Ben Carlson, and Tyler Wahl. Indiana transfer Aljami Durham is playing both guard positions for the Friars (and using a lot of possessions), who let Fairfield hang around, but throttled Sacred Heart.

Will be a good test for UW’s guard rotation (including frosh Chucky Hepburn and Lorne Bowman), who have been playing really active defense so far.

Making UW a 7 point favorite feels like a lot. I’ll be thrilled with any type of win.

Stew: My Friars will be trying to pull the upset, but will live in the hearts and minds of all right thinking Americans tonight. Their defense should be able to handle wisconsin’s offense decently well.

The issue will likely be scoring points. While Providence’s offense isn’t terrible, wisconsin’s immoral packline defense will be an issue to penetrate, going to need a good night from deep, something that they’ve been just average at so far.


Pick this one, too:

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    wisconsin by 7 or more
    (10 votes)
  • 41%
    wisconsin by less than 7
    (12 votes)
  • 24%
    (7 votes)
29 votes total Vote Now

Creighton Bluejays at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Tuesday, Nov. 16 | 6pm | FS1

Jesse: Oh, so we’re finally putting this in the Gavitt games? Does this mean this is our permanent crossover, because for reasons, I’m not a huge fan. For all of the immense potential - sort of like my preview of Nebraska Basketball that is sitting in preview mode in the editor - Nebraska is not as good as Creighton top to bottom.

Nebraska in its first two games shows that there is talent if they move the ball and don’t revert to bad habits. Unfortunately, they like to revert to bad habits. I’m going to assume Creighton wins by like 14 here, which sucks because I’m sick of Creighton winning this stupid game.


So...does anything change?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Nah. Bluejays, and they probably cover, too.
    (64 votes)
  • 14%
    Not really, unless you count "Bluejays winning a close one" as "change".
    (13 votes)
  • 14%
    (13 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now

Seton Hall Pirates at #6 Michigan Wolverines

Tuesday, Nov. 16 | 8pm | FS1

MNW: Just poking my head in here to mention how stupid it is that a team in the Central time zone is playing at 6pm local time and the one in the Eastern time zone is playing at 9pm local time. But, well, money.

RockyMtnBlue: Michigan was pushed a bit by Buffalo. Seton Hall hasn’t remotely been challenged yet. Neither team has played a game against a team that could come close to meeting their size. That will change with this game. Seton Hall murdered Fairleigh Dickenson and Yale with absurdly balanced scoring. They have 8 players averaging 8 points or more, but no one over 13. I’m pretty nervous of this game, but I think we pull it out.
Prediction: Rumeal Robinson hits 2 free throws at the end for the win.


That’s enough on this game.

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    You’re damn right. Michigan by a lot.
    (52 votes)
  • 33%
    Uh-huh. Michigan by a little.
    (37 votes)
  • 19%
    I’m sold: PIRATES!
    (22 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now

Michigan State Spartans at Butler Bulldogs

Wednesday, Nov. 17 | 6pm | FS1

Green Akers: I expect a choppy game here, as both teams go deep into their benches; as usual, Izzo plays just about everybody on scholarship as he tinkers his lineups, and Butler has started off playing nine guys at least ten minutes per game. It’s at Butler’s place, so I’d probably give them a slight edge.


Is Green Akers’ worrying justified?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Nah. Sparty wins.
    (103 votes)
  • 43%
    Yep. Hinkle Magic.
    (79 votes)
182 votes total Vote Now

St. John’s Red Storm at Indiana Hoosiers

Wednesday, Nov. 17 | 8pm | FS1

Buffkomodo: I think I forgot St. John’s was in the Big East until MNW told us to chime in. This is also a problem that’s fallen upon the Big East in recent years...the bottom of the Big East is BAD. Like, consistently terrible. St. John’s has been at the bottom of the barrel.

This game in Assembly? I think the Hoosiers come out and roll the Red Storm.


Do the Hoosiers roll the Storm?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Sure. Whatever the line is, they cover it.
    (54 votes)
  • 26%
    Nah, but they still win.
    (49 votes)
  • 44%
    (83 votes)
186 votes total Vote Now

#17 Ohio State Buckeyes at Xavier Musketeers

Thursday, Nov. 18 | 5:30pm | FS1

BoilerUp89: In the tic-tac-toe game, the Buckeyes will travel to the Cintas Center for the first time ever and face Xavier in just the fifth time ever for the in-state opponents. This is also the first regular season matchup post World War II between the two schools as their most recent games have been the 1984 NIT (Xavier won in OT at the now demolished Cincinnati Gardens) and the 2007 NCAA tournament (where OSU won in OT).

As for this year’s Xavier squad, they have a couple of former B1G players in Jack Nunge (Iowa) and Jerome Hunter (Indiana). Hunter is starting for the Musketeers - although he hasn’t done anything too exciting so far and Nunge is getting decent minutes off the bench while the Muskies wait for Zach Freemantle to return from injury (out until Big East play). Super senior Paul Scruggs is Xavier’s best player - although he really hasn’t developed beyond what he was as a freshman and OSU can probably tempt him into poor shot selection. Overall the Xavier offense is a stagnant, offensive to the eyes display that involves a bunch of guys standing around the perimeter and trying to take their defender off the dribble with or without utilizing ball screens. Off-ball screens seem to be non-existent. I’ve seen AAU teams play more entertaining offense. Defensively Xavier is solid, but Liddell will have an advantage inside should he chose to use it.

If OSU can avoid turnovers and prevent Xavier from getting easy buckets in transition they should win this one as Xavier’s half court offense isn’t good enough to put up significant points against a defense they don’t completely overmatch.

MaximumSam: No need to add on that preview of Xavier. However, OSU is in a bit of bind. They got rough news on Monday that Justice Sueing would be out indefinitely with a “lower-body” injury. Details are still uncertain, but it feels like something that is significant and may require surgery. Given I thought he would be the Buckeye’s second best player this year and an All B1G selection, it’s a blow.

There is no easy replacement for him. Justin Ahrens has gotten the bulk of his minutes, but he is still a pretty one-dimensional player, even if he has been a bit more active on defense. Seth Towns is still recovering from back surgery. Gene Brown probably gets a few more minutes on the wing, but what that does for the team is uncertain. I was bullish that this team would find its way and make a strong run, but I’m not nearly as confident in that now.



This poll is closed

  • 36%
    (68 votes)
  • 63%
    (119 votes)
187 votes total Vote Now

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at DePaul Blue Demons

Thursday, Nov. 18 | 7:30pm | FS1

RU in VA: If there’s anything you read in this article, please read this. DePaul isn’t very good, and hasn’t been very good. They’ve hired a brand new coach in Tony Stubblefield who is coming out of being knee deep in the Christian Dawkins Louisville scandal. Apparently Oregon “cleared him of any wrongdoing” even though they had hard phone records of him hammering Dawkins’ phone during recruiting periods.

Oregon hired Stubblefield from New Mexico State AFTER he convinced this dude to transfer into NMSU from St. Johns. Apparently paying recruits and recruiting in players dealing with sexual assault allegations helps you fail upwards in Chicago.

I hope Rutgers wins by 40.


choose the ridiculous claim that wins the game

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    chicago’s big east team
    (64 votes)
  • 65%
    new york’s big ten team
    (121 votes)
185 votes total Vote Now

Writers: Who wins the Gavitt Tipoff Games, and by what score?

BoilerUp89: Michigan, MSU, and Rutgers should be locks to win. Even though they will be missing Kofi for his final game of his suspension, Illinois likely gives the B1G a 4th win. Creighton/Nebraska could go either way as both teams have looked bad early. Wisconsin has more talent than Providence, but Providence is older and Ed Cooley is a heck of a good coach so that’s another toss up.

The game I’m most interested in watching is Indiana-St. John’s, as I don’t have a good read on either of these two squads this year. OSU should beat a thoroughly mediocre Xavier team, but the atmosphere should be great and OSU hasn’t looked good themselves so far. I’ll say the B1G wins 6-2 as the toss-ups get split.

Kind of...: I’ll also say 6-2, but 5-3 feels a lot more likely than 7-1. If Villanova and UConn aren’t participating, then the B1G had better roll.

Stew: I’m crossing my fingers for the B1G to go winless, seeing as Iowa isn’t playing. But the matchups, overall, just seem so skewed in the conference’s favor. A LOT would have to go wrong for the B1G not to pull this out.


Who wins the Gavitt Games?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Big Ten, 6-2 or better
    (26 votes)
  • 36%
    Big Ten, 5-3
    (43 votes)
  • 18%
    TIE, 4-4
    (22 votes)
  • 17%
    Big East, 5-3
    (21 votes)
  • 4%
    Big East, 6-2 or better
    (5 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now

Other Big Ten Midweek Games

Bowling Green Falcons at #17 Ohio State

Monday, Nov. 15 | 5:30pm | BTN | OSU -15 | O/U 144.5

misdreavus79: Why Ohio State keeps getting favored by more than five points is beyond me, but they’ll cover eventually, right?

Penn State Nittany Lions at UMass Minutemen

Monday, Nov. 15 | 6pm | CBSSN | PSU -3.5 | O/U 143.5

misdreavus79: Penn State will see a familiar face when they make the trip to Amherst to face UMass. Trent Buttrick, former backup to John Harrar, is now the leading scorer with the Minutemen. He’s also shooting free throws at an 83% clip after two games, so I guess he figured out how to make those now.

Although Penn State is favored by four, ESPN’s matchup predictor gives UMass a 71.6 chance of winning the game. Kenpom and Torvik both give the edge to the Lions, so I’m going with them.

Wright State Raiders at #7 Purdue Boilermakers

Tuesday, Nov. 16 | 6pm | BTN

BoilerUp89: Wright State comes into this game 1-1 with a win over Division II Lake Erie and a 88-96 loss to Marshall. The Raiders are considered one of the favorites in the Horizon this year which makes this team the equivalent of a 14 seed. In their game against Marshall, 6’9” forward Grant Basile scored 37 points while guard Tanner Holden added 25 points. If Purdue can limit the two of them, the Boilers should be able to put together another comfortable win in their final tune up game before the Hall of Fame Tip-Off games against UNC and either Villanova/Tennessee.

NJIT Highlanders at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Tuesday, Nov. 16 | 6pm | BTN

MNW: Man, anyone remember when NJIT beat Michigan?

New Orleans Privateers at Northwestern Wildcats

Tuesday, Nov. 16 | 7pm | BTN+

MNW: Boo Buie’s been hot for the ‘Cats so far, as has Pete Nance...but against nobodies. Still, at this point it’s just momentum that’s needed in Evanston if Northwestern’s going to compete when the meat of the schedule rolls around.

The Privateers are now yearly fodder for the ‘Cats, and they’re...well, a basketball team (so far 1-1, KP 321). G Derek St. Hilaire looks like the bulk gunner for UNO, who get out and push under coach Mark Slessinger but at least have a little size to force Pete Nance and Ryan Young to stay on top of their game inside.

NC Central Eagles at Iowa Hawkeyes

Tuesday, Nov. 16 | 8pm | BTN

George Mason Patriots at #21 Maryland Terrapins

Wednesday, Nov. 17 | 6pm | BTN

St. Francis (NY) Terriers at Penn State Nittany Lions

Thursday, Nov. 18 | 6pm | BTN+

misdreavus79: This is a game, and it will be played. I will have to shell out to watch it, since it’s on Big Ten Plus. St. Francis is 335th on Kenpom, so anything other than a leisurely watch for me is cause for concern.

Alabama State Hornets at Iowa Hawkeyes

Thursday, Nov. 18 | 6pm | BTN

Fairly Dickin’, Son, Knights at Northwestern Wildcats

Thursday, Nov. 18 | 8pm | BTN

MNW: Only real talker I have for you here is that NU F Elyjah Williams facing his former team. The Fightin’ Chess Pieces took a walloping by Seton Hall and then had bus problems that meant they couldn’t travel to play Drexel over the weekend.

The ‘Cats will have a MASSIVE size advantage here, and if the shots aren’t falling from outside, like they weren’t at the start against High Point, it’ll go inside to Ryan Young to batter the Knights’ 6’8” Quebecois center. I think he’ll be able to do it.

Here’s your open thread for the week’s basketball. We’ll keep this pinned somewhere near the top of the page, and MNW will update the schedule as he’s able. Usual rules apply, and have a great week.