As reported by many earlier in the week and confirmed today, the St. John's Red Storm will be taking on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the first annual "Gavitt Tipoff Games," to be played in November. The games feature a series of matchups between the Big East and Big Ten, and will be played every year from 2015 to 2022.
For the Red Storm and Scarlett Knights, this will be the first meeting between these two former conference rivals since Rutgers left the Big East after the 2012-2013 season. That year the two teams split their two games, with Rutgers holding off St. John's in January before the Red Storm got its revenge just two weeks later.
Despite the close proximity of these two schools there has never been much of a rivalry between them, mostly due to the lowliness of the Rutgers basketball program in recent years. The Scarlett Knights haven't had a winning season since 2006, and they haven't been to an NCAA Tournament since 1991, with just five winning seasons since that year.
Their first season in the Big Ten under head coach Eddie Jordan was a complete embarrassment, as they went just 2-16 in the conference and dropped 15 straight games to end the year.
But besides the St. John's-Rutgers matchup, seven other games will take place in the Gavitt Games.
Tuesday, November 17
Georgetown at Maryland- An intriguing early season game between two NCAA Tournament teams last season. Maryland is expected to be one of the best teams in the nation next year with playmakers such as Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, and top 10 recruit Diamond Stone leading the way. Georgetown returns most of their stars from last season as well, including leading scorer D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera.
DePaul at Penn State- Two usual bottom feeders in their respective conferences face off in a game without much buzz. One thing to note is that this will be one of the first games at DePaul for new head coach Dave Leitao.
Nebraska at Villanova- The Cornhuskers struggled to a 13-18 overall record last season, and they'll have their hands full with Villanova in this one, as the Wildcats return Big East co-Player of the Year Ryan Arcidiacono along with Josh Hart and Daniel Ochefu.
Wednesday, November 18
Illinois at Providence- With both of these teams making postseason play last season (Providence in the NCAA Tournament and Illinois in the NIT), this is one of the better matchup in the inaugural Gavitt Games.
Thursday, November 19
Creighton at Indiana- Another interesting game between two midwest teams, this will be the first meeting between the Blue Jays and Hoosiers since 1974-75. Creighton should be improved next season after a disastrous 2014-15, while Indiana should be right around the top 25, especially if their star Yogi Ferrell decides to return to school.
Iowa at Marquette- The first meeting between these two teams in over three decades will be one of the first big games in top recruit Henry Ellenson's Marquette career. Ellenson heads a strong recruiting class that will face off with an Iowa team looking to make their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Rutgers at St. John's
Friday, November 20
Xavier at Michigan- Both of these teams are expected to be among the top 25 next season, with Michigan returning most of their starters from last season, most notably Caris LeVert, who announced his return to the school yesterday. Xavier returns a bulk of their scoring from last season as well, with Trevon Bluiett, Jalen Reynolds, and Myles Davis returning.
Two Big East teams, Butler and Seton Hall, will not take part in the inaugural games. However each Big East team will participate a minimum of six times in the eight years that the games are held.
The games are named in honor of Dave Gavitt, the founder of the Big East who passed away in 2011. His son, Dan, now is the NCAA Vice President of Men's Basketball Championships.