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.
Georgetown-Maryland Could Highlight Gavitt Tip-Off Games; D.C. to Host Big Ten Tourney in 2017
NEW YORK –– A resumption of the Georgetown-Maryland rivalry could highlight the Gavitt Tip-Off Games when they begin in November 2015.
“If you’re just looking at geography, you probably think they’re going to try and put us with Maryland, but we’ll see,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III told SNY.tv on Monday at Madison Square Garden where the event was formally announced. “As the Commissioner [Val Ackerman] says, the matchups will come out in May  and we’ll go from there.”
He added: “I’m fine with it. Whatever happens, happens. No big deal.”
Former Maryland coach Gary Williams said the Gavitt Tip-Off Games could trigger a resumption of the series. The two teams haven’t played since 2008, when Georgetown crushed Maryland, 75-48, in the Old Spice Classic in Florida.
“It could happen and it’s funny how things work,”Williams told SNY.tv. “The Gavitt Tip-Off Games, if that matchup takes place, it would be as exciting a college game as has happened in D.C. in a while, and I think maybe from there you would see the two teams play more, even if it wasn’t part of this.”
If the two former national champions meet in November 2015, it will have been seven years since they last met — assuming they don’t meet up somewhere in the postseason in 2015.
“That goes back when Lefty Driesell and John Thompson were coaching and we played Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament a couple times and then it just didn’t happen,” Williams said. “It’s a shame it couldn’t happen. It’s both schools and nobody’s to blame but it would be nice to see it happen again.”
Maryland has had four players transfer out this offseason, but Williams believes coach Mark Turgeon can get things turned around as they enter the Big Ten next season.
“Yeah, they have a good recruiting year coming in,” Williams said. “If you’re in the ACC, you’re going to play really great basketball games. If you’re in the Big Ten you’re going to play great basketball games and play against really good teams. So if you’re in one of the major conferences, it doesn’t matter where you’re playing. It’s going to be tough and you have to be tough. I think this is a chance for Maryland to regroup and really get after it.”
PRE-EXISTING RIVALRY GAMES LIKELY TO REMAIN UNAFFECTED
The Gavitt Games will consist of eight games each year and could feature several natural regional rivalries, including Georgetown-Maryland and Xavier-Ohio State.
Some of those rivalry games already exist. For example, Rutgers and Seton Hall have an eight-year deal and Creighton and Nebraska and Marquette and Wisconsin play annually.
Those games, therefore, won’t be a part of the Gavitt Games unless the two teams agree to play their annual matchup in November, as opposed to later.
“That is not a Gavitt Tip-Off Game unless it is in the block of days beginning in 2015 that we plan to conduct this challenge,” Ackerman told SNY.tv.
For example, Rutgers and Seton Hall, who played last year on Dec. 8, could opt to move their game to November. Otherwise, they would simply play other opponents.
“We could determine that that will be a Gavitt Tip-Off Game in that year because there will be eight games and we could mark one of those as long as it meets the requirements,” Ackerman said. “They’re going to host four, we’re going to host four, we’re going to have four doubleheaders on those four days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I think what’s more likely is those schools will continue to play each other because they always do. Creighton-Nebraska plays every year [in December] and they may decide it’s best for them to play in December, or in late November, or in early January and that’s all fine. It’s not additive.
“So we’re going to have a minimum of eight Big East teams every year so that gives us a little flexibility in case two of our teams are scheduled out and can’t fit it in. But we could have Creighton play Nebraska and we could also have Creighton playing Penn State as a Gavitt Tip-Off game in that early season bloc.”
Ackerman said while geography would play a role, “it’s more likely to be based on competitive equity.”
“We’d like to see the top schools from each conference playing each other, as opposed to a 1-8 because we want it to be good matchups,” she said. “We want our coaches going into every game like they have a shot…We’re going to try to make it so the matchups are more or less equal, so the geography could work out and if it doesn’t, that’s OK. You could still have St. John’s playing Michigan and we could also have Creighton playing Penn State.”
D.C. TO HOST BIG TEN TOURNEY IN 2017
The Big Ten will hold its postseason tournament at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., in 2017, according to the AP.
That year, the ACC Tournament will also be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.