Gavitt Tipoff Games Recap

Story posted November 21, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Kevin Hudash

Two of college basketball’s most historic conferences squared off over the past week to kickoff the college basketball season.  The Big East and the Big Ten each were represented by eight of their respective teams to play in The Gavitt Tipoff games in honor of the late great Dave Gavitt.  The series will have the two conferences lacing up against each other in the first full week of college basketball for the next eight years. 

Dave Gavitt was one of the most significant people in not only college basketball, but college sports, said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said to the New York Times after his passing.  The former Providence basketball coach founded the Big East in 1979 and was the leading force behind it until eventually being accepted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.  He was also named to be the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball coach in 1980 until the eventual boycott of the games. 

Gavitt was one of the first to point out college basketball’s biggest flaw: the lack of an opening event.  With Professional football, basketball, and hockey being played - along with the home stretch of college football – college basketball has a need to make a splash in the sports world marking it’s beginning.   This is precisely the goal of the Big Ten and the Big East.

The series makes sense geographically for the two conferences.  As ACC basketball grows, the Big Ten is struggling to stay relevant in the east coast market; while the Big East is hoping to simply stay relevant at all after losing a number of important teams.  The Gavitt series will help to not only kick off the basketball season, but also to let the two powerhouse conferences put their best teams at play against one another in a time where most schedules are candy-coated with mid-major teams.

In an interview with ESPN, Jim Delany quoted Dave Gavitt saying, “We sure know how to end a season with a bang, but we don't know what we should in the beginning.”  Dave Gavitt would be glad to know his name is being used to solve that very problem. 

The series featured four ranked teams and three other teams receiving votes for the top 25.  The final score ended with the conferences splitting the eight games four to four.  It got much national attention as many of the games went down to the wire.  I outlined each of these games below:

Tuesday, November 17th

Penn State-68 DePaul-62

Penn State coach Pat Chambers earned his 100th win in the schools’ first matchup since 1984.  DePaul had beaten the Lions six straight times before this - including the last three while being ranked in the top five nationally.  Penn State controlled the lead of this game from start to finish, in a game that was much closer then it appeared.  Penn State scored less than a third of their points in the paint and DePaul constantly stayed within three points down the stretch of the second half.  Brandon Taylor scored his only first half points by hitting a buzzer beating three to end the period.  He was the difference in the game, however, scoring the remaining 19 points of his 22 in the second half to put away the Blue Demons. 

No. 11 Villanova-87 Nebraska-63

Villanova grabbed their 28th consecutive win in the Pavilion over Nebraska by scoring 33 points off of Nebraska’s 22 turnovers.  Though this game was much more entertaining than you would think.  Jay Wright and his Wildcats were down seven to Tim Miles’ Cornhuskers with less than eight minutes remaining in the first half.  After a timeout Villanova pulled away with a 22-0 run late in the first half and then a 13-0 run in the second half.  Wright attributed the win to his team’s defense and experience in tough spots.  The Cornhuskers simply couldn’t find their rhythm in the rout, shooting just 37.7 percent from the field.

No. 3 Maryland-75 Georgetown-71

The premier game in the Gavitt Tipoff series lived up to expectations as the No. 3 ranked Maryland barely survived against neighborhood rival Georgetown.  In the teams’ first meeting since 1993, the atmosphere in Maryland was electric in front of a sellout crowd.  In a game with four ties and six lead changes in the first half alone, you could tell how important the victory was to each school. The Hoyas led by as much as seven in the second half before Maryland took the lead with just over a minute remaining.  Maryland star, and future NBA draft prospect, Melo Trimble iced the game, nailing two free throws with 12 seconds left. He finished the game with 24 points. The two schools both recognized how valuable the rivalry is to the community and will meet again next year.

Wednesday, November 18th

Providence-60 Illinois-59

The exciting play of the Gavitt games continued Wednesday night in another thrilling finish.  Rodney Bullock’s free throw with 43 seconds left was the deciding factor in the game.  The Illini had ample chances to top the Friars but missed three shots in the final 10 seconds of the game.  This was Providence’s first home game against a Big Ten opponent since beating Purdue in 1998.  Although the game was a nail biter with six lead changes in the second half, it wasn’t exactly a shooting clinic.  Both teams shot poorly from behind the arc, from the free throw line, and each team finished with a 38.3 percent field goal percentage.  Besides the weak shooting, the performance had a magnificent ending and added to the Gavitt games reputation of entertaining ball games.

Thursday, November 19th

No. 14 Indiana-86 Creighton-65

Thomas Bryant led Indiana in the 21-point victory by filling up the stat sheet.  The 6’-10’’ freshman center had 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, four blocks and a steal.  On top of that the rookie knocked down his first career three pointer.  Indiana took an early lead going on a 12-0 run spurred by Bryant and never let Creighton within 15 for the rest of the game.  What really won them the game was their presence on the glass.  Indiana held Creighton to zero first half offensive boards, not allowing them to capitalize on their misses.  The No. 14 ranked team looks like they’re in tournament shape early in the season and will absolutely be a problem when March comes around.

St. Johns-61 Rutgers-59

St. Johns overcame a 16-point deficit to beat Rutgers Thursday night.  Rutgers had the ball and the chance to pull off the upset with 16 seconds left, but failed to capitalize and turned the ball over.  Bishop Daniels had the opportunity to redeem his turnover and drained a deep three for the win.  After a closer look the shot came after the buzzer and the game was over.  Although getting the loss, the inexperienced Rutgers team can take a lot away from the close game with a team that will likely be playing in March.  Hall of Famer, Chris Mullin, improved his teams record to 3-0 in his first season as a head coach.  The 1992 legendary dream team member has brought a lot of attention to St. Johns this year, but so far the team has lived up to the hype. 

Iowa-89 Marquette-61

Marquette and Iowa squared off for the first time since 1982 on Thursday night.  Fran McCaffrey got his 350th win in a huge Iowa victory on the road.  He was pleased to see his team control the game in almost all facets.  With six different players in double digits, the Hawkeyes couldn’t be stopped.  The Marquette Golden Eagles went down 48-21 after the first half but scored only one less point then Iowa in the second.  Marquette will need to bounce back from the tough loss before playing their next game against No. 23 ranked LSU. 

Friday, November 20th

Xavier-86 No. 24 Michigan-70

The last game of the series lived up to its expectations with a ranked upset by Xavier.  Although both teams shot nearly 40 percent from the field, it was the rebounds that left the lasting mark.  Xavier outrebounded the Wolverines 47 to 29 for the game. The Musketeers balanced out their offense with their starters accounting for 68 of their 86 points. The storyline was much different for Michigan with Caris LeVert scoring a whopping 29 points and no one else scoring in the double digits. Xavier moved to 3-0 with the win, while handing Michigan their first loss in the young season.  This being the last game of the series, the game got a lot of national attention and helped the series establish itself as a new era of Tipoff games.


Kevin Hudash is a junior marketing major, to contact him you can email him at