The matchups for the 2023 Gavitt Games are set.
The inter-conference challenge between the Big Ten and Big East, which began in 2015 in honor of the Big East founding commissioner and Basketball Hall of Famer Dave Gavitt, enters its eighth season, with the Big Ten leading the series, 3-1-3.
The 2023 edition of the Gavitt Games marks the final installment of the challenge between the two leagues under the first contract.
The action kicks off on Nov. 13 and concludes on Nov. 17, with all games airing on FS1.
Here is the complete slate:
This series marks the earliest conference challenge on the college basketball calendar, with the games taking place in the second week of the season. The early résumé opportunity and buzz that it has created has been productive for the sport, and it’s provided a good measuring stick for programs ahead of their multi-team events during Thanksgiving Week.
Here is a look at where the 2023 Gavitt Game matchups rank, 1-8:
1. Xavier at Purdue
This could be a top-25 showdown. With reigning national player of the year Zach Edey likely to return to the Boilermakers for his senior season, Purdue will be a legit national title contender. The first major test of their campaign coming against a Sean Miller-coached Xavier program that reached the Sweet 16 a year ago is buzz-worthy. The Musketeers have lost several key pieces from that second-weekend NCAA Tournament team, and a retooled backcourt featuring transfers Dayvion McKnight and Quincy Olivari will face a tall task at Mackey Arena. Purdue’s sophomore duo of Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer will be looking to build off their strong debut season, while the intriguing matchup inside will feature Xavier fifth-year senior and past All-Big East selection Zach Freemantle trying to stop the best player in the country, Edey. Grab your popcorn.
2. Marquette at Illinois
Coming off a 29-win season that featured winning the Big East regular season and tournament championships, Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles will go from flying under the radar entering last season to having a firm target on their backs heading into this season. It’s never easy going to the State Farm Center, especially in the second week of the season. The intrigue on the flip side of this matchup is that it’s difficult to know exactly what Illinois will be in the upcoming season. The big question: Will All-Big Ten selection Terrence Shannon Jr. return after testing the NBA Draft waters? Shannon is hanging around that early-to-mid-second-round projection, which means he’s got an interesting choice to make. He averaged 17 points, five rebounds and three assists per game last season. If he’s back in the fold, the idea of Shannon meeting reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek is a fun thought. The matchup on the interior between Marquette’s Oso Ighodaro and the Illini’s Dain Dainja also highlights this game. The question for the Illini: What exactly does their supporting cast of Sencire Harris, Luke Goode and transfer Quincy Guerrier look like? We get an early answer in this showdown.
3. Maryland at Villanova
I’ll go on the record now: I believe this ends up being the best game of the series. Maryland has a top-25 team and Kevin Willard’s first year couldn’t have gone better in College Park. Meanwhile, there’s pressure on Kyle Neptune and his staff to lead Villanova to a bounce-back season after the program missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. That said, the Wildcats have star guard Justin Moore and big man Eric Dixon back. This matchup features a dramatic layer with Villanova transfer Hakim Hart facing his former team. The Terrapins are stacked for a big year as All-Big Ten point guard Jahmir Young returns to lead the way while Donta Scott and Julian Reese will charge one of the best frontcourts in the Big Ten. Willard is more than familiar with Villanova, who he battled and formed a rivalry with in his 12 seasons at Seton Hall. Will the Terps match their strong start last season and notch a significant road win to set the tone for a campaign with elevated expectations, or will Villanova show that they’re poised to return as one of the best in the Big East again? This one should be fun.
4. Wisconsin at Providence
These are two NCAA Tournament teams heading into the season and there’s a variety of storylines surrounding them both. For the Friars, the home matchup with the Badgers will be the first major game of the Kim English Era. Amica Mutual Pavilion, which has already sold out of its season tickets for the upcoming year, has become one of college basketball’s toughest places to play for a visiting team, particularly in recent seasons.
As for Greg Gard’s program, the Badgers are stacked with returning experience, bringing back all five starters, four of whom were double-figure scorers last season. All-Big Ten guard Chucky Hepburn leads the way, while the frontcourt duo of Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl will charge Wisconsin on the interior. Gard also made a significant backcourt pickup with St. John’s transfer AJ Storr. The matchup between Wahl and Bryce Hopkins should be fascinating to watch in this game. Hopkins, who transferred to Providence from Kentucky after his freshman year, is a legit Big East Player of the Year candidate entering his junior season. English also retained dynamic two-way talent Devin Carter, as well as backcourt mates Jayden Pierre and Corey Floyd Jr., among others. For two teams that could end up in the top 25 at certain points in the upcoming season, this game has no harm for either side and could be a first-to-60 type of war. Expect physicality in Providence.
5. Michigan at St. John’s (MSG)
The Wolverines meeting Rick Pitino’s Johnnies on a Monday night at Madison Square Garden? By brand name, tradition and venue, it checks off all the boxes. If Michigan was in a better place from a roster standpoint, this game would have been higher on the list. The Red Storm, on the other hand, are entering the program’s most anticipated season in decades. Pitino picked up reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Jordan Dingle (23.4 PPG last season), as well as a core of transfers to build themselves up around the perimeter. He has an All-Big East selection and one of the national leaders in double-doubles (24) last season to charge the frontcourt with Joel Soriano. They will go up against a Michigan squad that will be counting on Dug McDaniel to take a sophomore leap and Jaelin Llewellyn to return from injury and put it all together. Losing Caleb Love due to academic standards certainly hurts the Wolverines, but Alabama transfer Nimari Burnett should help in the backcourt. Could Michigan be better than we expect? The early road test at MSG offers the Wolverines a chance to prove it, while the Johnnies should have an interested New York crowd ready to see if Pitino is in fact an immediate savior to the program.
6. Iowa at Creighton
This showdown features two of the best offensive minds in college basketball as Fran McCaffery squares off with Greg McDermott. It marks the first meeting between the Hawkeyes and Bluejays since 2011, with less than 250 miles separating the two schools. Creighton, which came just seconds away from a Final Four last season in a heartbreaking loss to San Diego State, could be a top-15 squad yet again. Baylor Scheierman is back on the wing, while point guard Steven Ashworth comes in from Utah State to fill the void left by Ryan Nembhard. The key question for the Jays: Will Trey Alexander and Ryan Kalkbrenner return? As for the Hawkeyes, the run that the Murray brothers were on the last couple of seasons has come to a conclusion, with Kris following Keegan to the NBA. Iowa will depend on Tony Perkins, Payton Sandfort and Patrick McCaffery to lead the charge, while Valparaiso transfer Ben Krikke (19.4 PPG last season) headlines the additions. Expect the 3s to fly in Omaha for this Midwest showdown.
7. Butler at Michigan State
The Spartans are a legit national championship contender with Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Akins and Malik Hall back in the fold. They should be a preseason top-five team next season. Walker turned into one of the sport’s best guards last season, coming up clutch time and again for Tom Izzo. He averaged 15 PPG, including a 23-point showing to punch a Sweet 16 ticket against Marquette. This should be an elite offense, and then you throw in the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class headlined by five-star big man Xavier Booker, and the Spartans have a luxury of talent. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are coming off a 14-18 season in Thad Matta’s first year back on the sidelines. They were given no favors in this draw. This matchup was supposed to be on the schedule last year, but Michigan State instead faced Villanova. What it will provide is an early opportunity for Butler to show that it’s improved after a rough 2022-23 campaign. The lead storyline for the Bulldogs: How will St. John’s transfer and former Big East Defensive Player of the Year Posh Alexander fit in with the program? He’s expected to lead the backcourt as he enters his senior year. Northeastern transfer Jahmyl Telfort and UC Irvine transfer DJ Davis are expected to play key roles on the perimeter. The Spartans will be looking to take care of business against a Bulldogs team that currently projects as a bottom-four team in the Big East.
8. Georgetown at Rutgers
Ed Cooley is facing his first road test as the Hoyas’ head coach after one of the biggest offseason coaching shakeups in college basketball. Rutgers is trending toward being in a rebuilding season, having lost star Caleb McConnell, and just recently seeing Cam Spencer enter the transfer portal. The status of star center Cliff Omoruyi and guard Paul Mulcahy, and whether they return to Piscataway, is critical for this program. On the flip side, Georgetown has some unknowns heading into the upcoming season. Jersey Mike’s Arena (it will always be The RAC) is no easy place for a visitor to play, and this game will give Illinois transfer Jayden Epps, Kansas State transfer Ismael Massoud and Cooley’s other additions their first taste of a road atmosphere together. I would expect this matchup to be a defensive war, and it provides a confidence-building opportunity for two programs that could use it in the second week of what could be an up-and-down season.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.