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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / September 25.
  • Gavitt Tip-Off Games Between Big East and Big Ten Begin Tuesday

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    The Gavitt Tipoff Games is an annual series between the Big East and Big Ten Conferences and named in honor of Dave Gavitt, founder of the Big East and basketball visionary. The series starts this year and will span eight seasons with games being played at home sites. The Gavitt Tipoff Games will be played on four consecutive days in the first full week of the basketball season.

    Dave Gavitt believed that the college basketball season needed a high profile event to start the year. He had a profound and lasting influence on the sport of basketball on the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels. Gavitt was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

    First and foremost, Dave Gavitt was a coach and he always believed in the role of a coach as a teacher and mentor for young people. He began his coaching career at Dartmouth, his alma mater, and then led Providence to eight straight postseason bids in 10 years and guided the Friars to the 1973 Final Four. Gavitt was chosen to coach the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, which did not have the opportunity to participate because of a U.S. boycott of the Games.

    Game Previews

    Tuesday, November 17

    DePaul at Penn State

    5 p.m. ET, ESPNU

    Bryce Jordan Center (15,261)

    The Teams: Penn State is in its fifth year under head coach Patrick Chambers, a former assistant coach at Villanova under head coach Jay Wright. The Nittany Lions posted an 18-16 record last season, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Big Ten Tournament. DePaul has brought back Dave Leitao as head coach. He served as the Blue Demons’ head coach in 2002-05 and led the program to the school’s last NCAA berth. Last season, DePaul was 12-20.

    The Players: The Nittany Lions return three starters, including their second and third-leading scorers from the 2014-15 campaign. Sophomore guard Shep Garner averaged 9.2 points per game last season, while senior forward Brandon Taylor scored 9.1 points per contest. The Blue Demons return three double-figure scorers, including junior guard Billy Garrett, Jr. who was an All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection last year. Forwards Myke Henry and Tommy Hamilton III are the other double-figure scorers back for DePaul.

    The History: DePaul leads the all-time series 6-0, but the teams have not met since the 1984-85 season. In the last meeting, the Blue Demons, ranked No. 2 nationally in the AP poll, won 78-61 at Penn State on Dec. 12, 1984.

    Nebraska at No. 11/9 Villanova

    8:30 p.m. ET, FS1

    The Pavilion (6,500)

    The Teams: Villanova is the defending BIG EAST regular-season and tournament champion. The Wildcats are picked No. 1 in the BIG EAST preseason coaches’ poll. Nebraska is coming off a 13-18 season. The Huskers reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 the previous season.

    The Players: Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono was the BIG EAST Co-Player of the Year last season. He and forward Daniel Ochefu were Preseason All-BIG EAST selections. Guard Josh Hart won the Dave Gavitt Trophy as the Most Outstanding Player at last year’s BIG EAST Tournament. Nebraska will lean on senior forward Shavon Shields, a 2015 Capital One First-Team Academic All-American, and a 2014 All-Big Ten honorable mention selection. Senior Benny Parker started 25 games in the Huskers’ backcourt last season. Shields became the first player in school history to claim first-team Academic All-America plaudits.

    The History: The two teams have met only twice with Villanova taking both contests. The last meeting was a 75-60 Villanova victory in the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Nov. 19, 1998.

    Georgetown at No. 3/3 Maryland

    9 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    XFINITY Center (17,950)

    The Teams: Maryland is ranked No. 3 in both the Preseason AP and USA Today polls and is coming off a 28-7 record in 2014-15, including a 14-4 mark in Big Ten play during its first season in the conference. Georgetown was 22-11 last year and finished No. 22 in the final Associated Press poll.

    The Players: The Terps are led by point guard Melo Trimble, who was named the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year. He claimed first-team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman last season. Forward Jake Layman also was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team. Georgetown senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was named Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team. He is a two-time All-BIG EAST First Team selection. Sophomore forwards L.J. Peak and Isaac Copeland made the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team last year.

    The History: The last meeting between the two teams came in the 2008-09 season at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., with the Hoyas taking a 75-48 decision. The last previous meeting was the Sweet 16 round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament when the Terrapins prevailed 76-66 in a game played in Anaheim, Calif. Maryland leads the series 36-27. The two teams met every year between 1947 and 1976.

    Game Previews

    Wednesday, November 18

    Illinois at Providence

    7 p.m. ET, FS1

    Dunkin’ Donuts Center (12,410)

    The Teams: Providence finished 22-12 last year and made the NCAAs for a second straight NCAA season. It’s the first time the Friars have made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances since 1989-90. Illinois posted a 19-14 record, including a 9-9 mark in Big Ten play, and advanced to the NIT.

    The Players: Providence is led by guard Kris Dunn, the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year. Last season, he earned BIG EAST Co-Player of the Year honors while averaging 15.6 and a league-leading 7.5 assists and 2.7 steals. Forward Ben Bentil is the other returning starter. Illinois returns three starters, including its second and third-leading scorers from the 2014-15 campaign. Junior guard Malcolm Hill was a 2015 All-Big Ten honorable mention selection, while junior guard Kendrick Nunn averaged 11.1 points per game in 24 starts as a sophomore.

    The History: The two teams have met twice with both games played at Madison Square Garden. Providence won 81-79 on Dec. 9, 2003 in the Jimmy V Classic and 70-51 on Dec. 28, 1965 in the ECAC Holiday Festival.

    Game Previews

    Thursday, November 19

    Rutgers at St. John’s

    7 p.m. ET, FS1

    Carnesecca Arena (5,602)

    The Teams: St. John’s welcomes the Chris Mullin Coaching Era. The school’s top all-time scorer and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is beginning his coaching career. Mullin helped St. John’s reach the Final Four in 1985. Rutgers is in its third year under head coach Eddie Jordan, an alum that also coached the NBA’s Washington Wizards for more than five years.

    The Players: The Red Storm have almost a completely new roster. Durand Johnson, a transfer from Pittsburgh, figures to see extensive playing time and may be a key contributor. Rutgers welcomes seven newcomers to its roster this season, but returns senior guard Bishop Daniels, who chipped in 8.4 points per game during the Scarlet Knights’ inaugural season in the Big Ten.

    The History: Both schools were members of the BIG EAST from 1995-96 through 2012-13. St. John’s leads 26-14 in the all-time series. In BIG EAST play, St. John’s held a 15-7 edge. In the last meeting, the Red Storm won 72-60 at Rutgers on Jan. 23, 2013.

    Creighton at No. 15/15 Indiana

    7 p.m. ET, BTN

    Assembly Hall (17,472)

    The Teams: Indiana wrapped up the 2014-15 campaign with a 20-14 record (9-9 Big Ten) and made its 38th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Included in Creighton’s 14-19 record last season were four one-point losses and five more losses between two and four points.

    The Players: Indiana returns a pair of preseason All-Big Ten selections in guards James Blackmon Jr., and Yogi Ferrell. The Hoosiers also return junior forward Troy Williams, who scored 13.0 points and led Indiana with 7.4 rebounds per contest last season. The Bluejays have only one true returning starter, sophomore forward Toby Hegner, but they have two transfers who are expected to contribute immediately, guard Maurice Watson, Jr. and forward Cole Huff.

    The History: Creighton holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series, though the Hoosiers won the last meeting, a 71-53 victory in the Hoosier Classic on Dec. 20, 1974. The first meeting was on Feb. 4, 1920.

    Iowa at Marquette

    9 p.m. ET, FS1

    BMO Harris Bradley Center (18,600)

    The Teams: After a 13-19 campaign in 2014-15, Marquette and second-year head coach Steve Wojociechowski want to return to the postseason. The Golden Eagles reached the NCAA Elite Eight in 2013. Iowa returns four senior starters, including 2015 third-team Academic All-American point guard Mike Gesell and third-team All-Big Ten selection Jarrod Uthoff. The Hawkeyes, under the tutelage of sixth-year head coach Fran McCaffery, advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

    The Players: Sophomore guard Duane Wilson and junior center Luke Fischer are the returning starters for Marquette. Wilson made the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team last year. Freshman forward Henry Ellenson was named Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team. Senior Jarrod Uthoff, a transfer from Wisconsin, averaged a team second-best 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season, while senior point guard Mike Gesell handed out 3.9 assists per contest. Senior 7-foot center Adam Woodbury added 6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per outing while starting 33-of-34 games.

    The History: Iowa leads the series 10-7, though the teams have not met since Dec. 8, 1982 when the Hawkeyes won 87-66 at the Iowa Field House. The first game of the series was Jan. 5, 1924.

     

    Game Preview

    Friday, November 20

    Xavier at No. 25/rv Michigan

    9 p.m. ET, BTN

    Crisler Arena (12,707)

    The Teams: Michigan returns all five starters and more than 90 percent of its minutes played from a team that went 16-16 (8-10 Big Ten) in an injury-plagued 2014-15 season. Head coach John Beilein’s Wolverines captured the outright Big Ten Championship in 2013-14 and advanced to the Elite Eight. Last year, Xavier advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 round and finished the season with a 23-14 record. It was the Musketeers’ third Sweet 16 appearance in the last five years under coach Chris Mack.

    The Players: Senior guard Caris LeVert is a preseason All-Big Ten selection for the second straight year, and was leading Michigan in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks before suffering a season-ending injury near the outset of Big Ten play. Junior point guard Derrick Walton Jr., a 2014 Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection, also returns, after missing 13 games due to injury last season. Xavier has three returning starters, guard Trevon Bluiett, a BIG EAST All-Rookie Pick last year, along with guard Remy Abell and forward James Farr. Forward Jalen Reynolds, a top reserve last year, was named Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team.

    The History: Michigan has won all three meetings against Xavier. The last matchup came in the first round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament when the Wolverines took a 92-87 decision in The Omni in Atlanta, Ga., on their way to the national championship.

    Release: Courtesy Big East

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    Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.