What Dave Gavitt Tipoff Games Will Mean to Big East Conference

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

May 5, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Big East Conference commissioner Val Ackerman addresses the media during the NCAA basketball Big East/Big Ten press conference at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The legacy of the Big East Conference and its founder, Dave Gavitt, touched college basketball in another landmark fashion on Monday with the announcement of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, which will pit the Big East up against the Big Ten in eight games at the start of each season from 2015 to 2020. 

The event will begin in November 2015, and although specific games have yet to be announced, college basketball fans from New York to Omaha are salivating at the possibilities. 

By teaming up with the Big Ten, the Big East has assured its top teams will have at least one quality nonconference game each season. 

While only eight of the 10 teams in the Big East and eight from the 14 in the Big Ten will participate, the event will still give the former power conference a chance to show its might versus one of the big boys of college basketball. 

Last season, Villanova and Creighton barely played anyone of significance in nonconference play, and it hurt both teams when it came down to the NCAA tournament. 

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 22: Ryan Arcidiacono #15 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts against the Connecticut Huskies during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March 22, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo b
Elsa/Getty Images

Playing a light nonconference slate and facing much weaker teams in the Big East did nothing for the conference's best when it mattered most during the 2013-14 season, and if that trend continues, the league could be categorized as a mid-major sooner rather than later. 

What the Gavitt Tipoff Games bring to the table is an early litmus test for all 16 sides involved, and it also makes matchups during the first week of the season marketable. 

Just imagine if on Tuesday, Ohio State played Xavier, then on Wednesday, Nebraska took on Creighton and then a major Big Ten team got to play St. John's at Madison Square Garden the next day. To top things all off on Friday, the regular-season champions from each conference could square off. 

Those are just a few of the enticing matchups that come to mind when trying to imagine potential games for this incredible basketball occasion. 

In the long run, this set of games, which is scheduled to run through 2020, will benefit the Big East more because the Big Ten also participates in another high-profile nonconference event, the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. 

The Big East representatives of the event will also get to showcase local rivalries that some thought would not be played on a consistent basis thanks to the monster that is conference realignment. 

The first year, at least, should showcase as many local rivalries as possible with Creighton-Nebraska, Indiana-Butler, Georgetown-Maryland and Ohio State-Xavier being just four of the mouthwatering matchups.

Dec 15 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Butler Bulldogs guard Rotnei Clarke (15) drives to the basket against  Indiana Hoosiers guard Will Sheehey (0) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Butler defeats Indiana in overtime 88-86. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA T

Playing the same foe each season in the Gavitt Tipoff Games will be impossible, but if a rivalry game in 2015 turns out to be a huge success, it could turn into a consistent nonconference game further down the schedule in November or December. 

Before conference realignment reared its ugly head, the Big East was all about intense rivalries, and by teaming up with the Big Ten, the conference has channeled its former self in a sense. 

While there are a few possible ugly consequences for the Big East, like having its lower-rated teams blown out of the water by Big Ten teams, the good far outweighs the bad, as the conference tries to hold on to its relevancy in the day and age of super conferences. 

Joining forces with the Big Ten was a play right out of the old Big East's playbook, and while they won't be expanding their number of teams like the past, by playing in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, the Big East will get to expand its brand and potentially earn more respect by taking on one of the best conferences in the sport on a yearly basis. 


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