On Monday evening, the unique entity that is Jon Rothstein reported the Gavitt Tipoff Games matchups for the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season. Let’s just throw Jon’s tweet in here, and move on, because we have a lot to discuss.
NEWS: Matchups are set for the 2022 Gavitt Games, according to multiple sources.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 28, 2022
Villanova at Michigan State
Indiana at Xavier
Iowa at Seton Hall
Marquette at Purdue
Butler at Penn St
Northwestern at Georgetown
Nebraska at St. John's
DePaul at Minnesotahttps://t.co/uv7WkVzTKM
First of all, I want to point out that there is absolutely no reason to include Georgetown AND DePaul in this coming fall’s version of the Gavitt Games, not when you’re doing only eight games. There’s 11 Big East teams, and three teams are left out by default, you can leave the Hoyas and the Blue Demons out, or at least one of them for sure, and no one is going to blink because you’re just creating a terrible television product at that point. That’s a true statement before I point out that the three Big East squads left out in the cold this time around are UConn, Creighton, and Providence. Literally any Big Ten team against any of those three is better than the DePaul and Georgetown games listed above.
Yes, I know, blah blah, presumably contractual obligations to meet regarding everyone being included, etc., etc. That’s a terrible reason to subject anyone to Georgetown basketball on a national stage more than absolutely necessary.
Okay, with that travesty, we move on to a completely different travesty, and that’s Marquette drawing Purdue in the Gavitt Games.
This decision, in a word, sucks.
This will be Marquette’s sixth year of participation in the seven years of the Gavitt Games.
This will be the third — THIRD! — time that Marquette has drawn Purdue.
The first: 2017, Purdue wins in Milwaukee, 86-71.
The second: 2019, Marquette wins in Milwaukee, 65-55.
There are 13 teams in the Big Ten that Marquette can draw in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, as Marquette administration informed us that MU’s yearly game with Wisconsin will never be considered part of this event. If the eight year agreement for the Gavitt Games ends after this coming season as originally scheduled (2020’s cancelation looms as a potential reason to extend it one more year), then Marquette will have played just four of those 13 teams. Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois are the other three that popped in there, and Purdue’s boomerang impression occupies the other half of MU’s participation.
Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, to list the more interesting games for Marquette? Zippo. Even Northwestern, Rutgers, Nebraska, Penn State? Zilch.
Literally no one at the decision making level at the Big Ten office, nor the Big East office, nor the Marquette office, nor the Purdue office spoke up and said “Hey, this is a stupid waste of an event like this.” At this point, we can’t be surprised that there wasn’t a reaction from the McGuire Center or Stu Jackson’s office in New York, because this is the same garbage that we went through last year when someone hit the RECYCLE button on Marquette/Kansas State for the series between the Big East and the Big 12.
I’m not asking for much. I’m asking for someone, literally anyone, to say “hey, what if we send Marquette to Penn State or Minnesota instead?” I’m not even asking the decision makers to give up that Villanova/Michigan State game. I get how this works, you want high quality TV matchups, that’s fine.
As for actual basketball content, Purdue’s probably going to be pretty good next year. T-Rank slots them in at #28 in the 2022-23 preseason projections at this point, and that’s really impressive if you think about it. They’re coming off a year where they earned a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16, but two of their top four scorers were seniors and leading scorer Jaden Ivey just went #5 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. The fact that the Boilermakers shape up to be a fringe top 25 team to start the year is quite the testament to head coach Matt Painter.
It’s also quite the compliment to Zach Edey, the 7’4” starting center for Purdue. He averaged 14 points and eight rebounds a game last year, and T-Rank projects him as a double-double machine next season. That’s going to be quite the defensive assignment for Oso Ighodaro, much less whoever ends up playing behind Ighodaro at the 5 for Marquette next season. MU’s most likely two candidates for that non-Ighodaro role are either 6’9” Keeyan Itejere, coming off his redshirt last season, or 6’11” freshman Ben Gold. At a glance, without much in the way of knowledge of exactly what Itejere or Gold will look like in November, this doesn’t seem like the best possible situation to walk into trying to defend a guy who will be one of the best bigs in the Big Ten if not in the entire country next season.