St. John's will participate in the second annual Gavitt Games, an early season conference versus conference matchup offering a unique opportunity to see teams from the Big East and Big Ten square off. Last season both the Big East and Big Ten both won four games each, leaving no clear winner for the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.
Listed below is the full field for the 2016 Gavitt Games.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Maryland at Georgetown
Villanova at Purdue
Wisconsin at Creighton
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Northwestern at Butler
Seton Hall at Iowa
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Providence at Ohio State
Rutgers at DePaul
Friday, November 18, 2016
St. John's at Minnesota
The most intriguing, must-watch game is certainly Villanova's road contest against Purdue. Jay Wright's Wildcats are coming off a National Championship and should be a tough team once again. Purdue started off strong and played well in a tough Big Ten, making the NCAA Tournament comfortably as a five-seed. The Boilermakers saw their season come to a stunning conclusion when they were dropped in the NCAA Tournament's First Round by Arkansas Little-Rock. Next year Purdue should be a legitimate national contender, especially if freshman center Caleb Swanigan returns.
Many of the other contests should also be solid match-ups.
Seton Hall and Iowa are both coming off strong 2015-2016 campaigns and should battle it out in Iowa City.
Maryland and Georgetown will face off in an immensely important rivalry game.
Whenever the Terps and Hoyas duel - which is less common than some fans would like - major bragging rights in D.C are at stake.
Providence and Ohio State should be evenly matched an provide fans an exciting game.
Northwestern is a rising program that won 20 games last season, but desperately needs to beat Butler to garner attention on Selection Sunday.
Wisconsin will be a very good team with most players returning from a Sweet Sixteen trip; Creighton won two games in the NIT and could improve.
As for Rutgers and DePaul, let's just pretend that game is not actually happening. Then again, the St. John's/ Rutgers matchup is also a game between two teams with single-digit wins; of the four teams, DePaul had the most wins at 9-22 last season, and the most conference wins with three.
St. John's drew Richard Pitino's Minnesota Golden Gophers in what may be the most unpredictable contest - and the one relegated to a Friday night. Both teams are coming off terrible campaigns where they won a combined three conference games.
That being said, both teams are adding and retaining enough talent to compete at a higher-level in their respective conferences. Fans don't know what to expect out of both teams which should make for a highly competitive contest on Minnesota's campus, the kind of game that one team can use as a springboard for a rebound year. St. John's last faced the Gophers in a thriller in the NIT Season-Tip Off two years ago at Madison Square Garden.
At the very least St. John's will get a game against a Big Ten team; others left out of the 2016 Gavitt Games were not pleased. Xavier Musketeers exclusion from the challenge did not sit well with Xavier AD Greg Christopher, who said to Cincinnati.com:
"We are disappointed not to be a part of the Gavitt Games this season. We expected to host a Big Ten team and alerted the Big East office more than a year ago to our limited date availability because of the Puerto Rico exempt tournament," Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher said.
"The narrow date window wasn't an issue until the last few weeks. Through the numerous calls and exchanges, we moved other games and ultimately offered four possible dates where we could host a Big Ten opponent. Four potential dates and 14 potential Big Ten opponents - yet no game in the Cintas Center.
"We are actively working to fill the Big Ten scheduling void."
Overall, the 2016 Gavitt Games should produce some thrilling moments and enticing games.