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St. John’s to face Rutgers in 2018 Gavitt Games; schedule update

Plus a look at the nearly-completed schedule

Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

St. John’s, who drew Nebraska at home last season for the annual Gavitt Games, get an official rematch with Rutgers for the 2018 version of the Big East/ Big Ten challenge series.

The Gavitt Games, pairing eight Big East teams and eight Big Ten teams (the leagues have 10 and 14 programs, respectively) are an annual November matchup to honor the legacy of Dave Gavitt, the former Providence coach and athletic director credited as a driving force behind the Big East’s formation.

St. John’s gets a chance at a road out of conference game against a local rival, adding the Scarlet Knights to a non-conference slate that currently includes:

  • Duke,
  • Georgia Tech (in Miami),
  • Rutgers,
  • two of California/ VCU/ Temple (in the Legends Classic)
  • Princeton (Holiday Festival),
  • Sacred Heart,
  • Mount St. Mary’s,
  • St. Francis (NY),
  • two of Loyola (MD)/ Detroit/ Bowling Green (Legends Classic)

The Johnnies last faced Rutgers at the RAC in exhibition play last season, where a late surge by Rutgers — attacking the Red Storm in the paint — and a late tip-in gave the Scarlet Knights the exhibition win.

The red Storm faced Rutgers in 2015 as part of the Gavitt Games in a thrilling win during Chris Mullin’s first season coaching the Red Storm. Before that, the Johnnies faced the Scarlet Knights at the RAC in Big East conference play prior to the great schism, winning 72-60 in 2013.

Next season’s matchup will find former Quinnipiac star freshmen Peter Kiss (Rutgers) and Mikey Dixon (St. John’s) facing each other for the first time as opponents; former Don Bosco teammates and incoming freshmen Ron Harper Jr. (Rutgers) and Marcellus Earlington (St. John’s) have a chance to meet on the court for the first time as well.

Full 2018 Gavitt Games Schedule

Tuesday, Nov. 13

Georgetown at Illinois

Wisconsin at Xavier

Wednesday, Nov. 14

Michigan at Villanova

Seton Hall at Nebraska

Marquette at Indiana

Thursday, Nov. 15

Ohio State at Creighton

Penn State at DePaul

Friday, Nov. 16

St. John’s at Rutgers

Schedule Strength

The schedule looks to be at 11 of the likely 13 games, with the Holiday Festival and exempt tournaments spoken for — meaning the staff has two more non-conference games to schedule.

Right now, if the Johnnies want a more challenging schedule than last year, they will need to find matchups against very good teams; the current best-case scenario for the average KenPom ranking for next year’s schedule, given what we know, is 189 — a bit lower than last year’s 134.

The schedule is nowhere near as embarrassing as Georgetown’s or Rutgers’ schedules last season. Major conference opponents Georgia Tech and Rutgers are primed to improve, California couldn’t be much worse, Princeton, VCU and Temple all should be better as well.

The important thing, as always, is winning the games in front of a team, and winning in the Big East.