The Big Ten and the Big East will tangle once again in the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games in 2017. It has been an interesting history for this relatively new event to date, and it appears 2017 will provide even more intrigue.
Big Ten heavyweights like Maryland, Purdue and Wisconsin will take part, while Marquette and Xavier will be in the mix on the Big East side of things.
Last season this event finished in a 4-4 tie just like the season before, which means we’re likely in store for some interesting matchups in the 2017 version as well. But, which matchups are going to tip the scale and which ones will likely be duds?
8. Nebraska at St. John’s
It is hard to get up for this game, especially considering the state of these two programs. Nebraska has taken dramatic steps backwards since the first season of Pinnacle Bank Arena’s opening, while former powerhouse St. John’s has been an embarrassment to its rich history in recent years.
This game seems like a fair fight of two of the worst programs in their respective leagues, but damn is this going to be some bad basketball.
7. DePaul vs. Illinois
Brad Underwood’s shocking hire at Illinois has people intrigued as to what the Illini can be. However, that is about the future and the here and now for the Illini isn’t all that bright. Neither is the future for a DePaul program that has been on a perpetual slide over the last decade-plus. Maybe this game is a stepping stone for the winner, but will it really matter much in the grand scheme of the 2017-18 season? Doubtful at best even if this is supposed to hike up some “in-state rivalry” thing.
6. Xavier vs. Wisconsin
Simply put, we have no idea what the Wisconsin Badgers are going to look like heading in to the 2017-18 season. We know big man Ethan Happ is going to be a leader and point guard D’Mitrick Trice will play a role, but that is about it. Xavier will return star Trevon Bluiett, and the Musketeers look like a Top 25 team heading in to the season. Wisconsin? We simply don’t know. This could be one helluva a matchup or a complete dud.
5. Indiana vs Seton Hall
I’ll give the Gavitt Tipoff Games credit for trying to match like-for-like in these matchups this season. Seton Hall returns big man Angelo Delgado, while Indiana will have James Blackmon Jr., OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant back. Intriguing matchup or will the Hoosiers be a work in progress? This ranking shouldn’t be seen as a slight, as it has much more to do with the strength of matchups than anything about these two teams. Let’s just say from this point forward, we’re very interested in what is going to happen.
4. Purdue vs. Marquette
Perhaps this game would’ve fell further down the list had Caleb Swanigan’s decision on the 2017 NBA Draft been known at the time of this writing. At least Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas are back. So, if both come back then this one vaults to the top of the list. That said, even without them, Marquette has some big time talent and Purdue will have a lot to prove. Look for this game to be one of the most meaningful in the Gavitt Tipoff games this season.
3. Minnesota vs. Providence
While Northwestern’s NCAA tourney run made headlines, Minnesota’s rise with young players all season long was the biggest of Big Ten storylines last season. This is a matchup of two teams that made it to the NCAA tournament and disappointed big time. Providence bowed out in a play-in game against USC, while Minnesota were bounced in one of the most obvious 12-seed over 5-seed upsets of all-time. Both are going to be searching to prove they can sustain new levels of success and this matchup should be a lot of fun to watch.
2. Creighton at Northwestern
Guard play will be on full display in this matchup, as Creighton returns star guards Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas and Northwestern gives us Bryant McIntosh. There’s also the intriguing matchup of Creighton trying to deal with Derek Pardon and Vic Law up front after losing their own big man up front. Will Creighton’s backcourt firepower overpower the frontcourt strength of the Wildcats? Few of these games will feature as intriguing of a storyline as this one will and I can’t wait to watch.
1. Butler vs. Maryland
Some will be shocked to see this as the top matchup, but with Justin Jackson back for the Terps and two four-star players coming in to the fold, Maryland is likely to be really freaking good this season. Butler will have four-star forward Kyle Young to add to a team already deep in talent with forward Kelan Martin and guard Kamar Baldwin back. In terms of team-to-team matchup, this has to be the most even on the docket and I’m excited to watch this one more than any other.