Beginning in 2015, the Big Ten and Big East will start the basketball season in style with a four-day, eight-game event, the conference’s announced Monday at Madison Square Garden. The Dave Gavitt Tipoff Games, a nod to the Big East founder and basketball hall of Famer, will take place the first week of the college basketball season each November at home sites.
ESPN, Big Ten Network and Fox Sports 1 will be the television partners. The network will be controlled by the conference of the home team.
Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier, Butler, DePaul, Marquette and Creighton form the Big East after a mass exodus during conference realignment. It’s possible fans could see rivalries renewed or begun all together. Ohio State-Xavier, Butler-Indiana, Maryland-Georgetown, Villanova-Penn State, Wisconsin-Marquette and DePaul-Illinois are all possible matchups.
“We are excited to honor Dave Gavitt and his contributions to the sport of basketball through the establishment of the Gavitt Tipoff Games,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement. “Dave was a friend and a mentor to me and often mentioned that college basketball should do a better job of tipping off the season, similar to opening day in baseball. I think he would approve of our effort to start a new tipoff tradition, grow the game and serve the best interests of the student-athletes and coaches in these two great conferences.”
Games will be determined with competitive balance in mind, similar to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Each conference will have four home games on an annual basis from 2015 through 2022. Two games will be played on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in the first full week of each season. Each Big Ten team will participate a minimum of four times over the eight-year period, while Big East teams will participate six times.
The 16-year event with the ACC will not be affected. College basketball fans have voiced complaints in recent years about declining strength of schedule. Only a handful of blue-blood programs play difficult non-conference schedules each season. But the combination of events with the Big East and ACC should lessen that problem among Big Ten schools, especially Ohio State.
The Big Ten and Big East overlap geographically. Many of the Big East’s members are located in the Midwest and the inclusion of Maryland and Rutgers in the 14-team Big Ten gives the conference a footprint on the East Coast. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is determined to increase the league’s visibility throughout the Northeast.
Along with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the conference is opening an office in Midtown Manhattan, a satellite office Washington, beginning a partnership with the Pinstripe Bowl, advertising inside Yankee Stadium during all events played at the historic venue and adding Johns Hopkins as a member of its budding lacrosse conference.
Gavitt was a major proponent of the Final Four, but he long advocated for a similar event to mark the college basketball season’s arrival. Along with being known as the Big East’s founder, which created a basketball power conference, Gavitt also served as the president of USA Basketball from 1988 to 1992 during which he contributed to the formation of the Dream Team.