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Gavitt Games Primer


Tyler Kolek in a game against Illinois last season. (Courtesy AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

The Gavitt Games are back this week! As I wrote yesterday, this year's slate is weaker on the surface than past ones, but there are some really good games to watch.


The series is tied at 24-24 through six seasons played, with the Big East posting a 1-2-3 record against the Big Ten. The first three years of the agreement each ended in a tie, with the Big Ten taking the following two years and the Big East taking last season 6-2.


Here's the rundown on all eight games in this year's schedule.


DePaul at Minnesota

Monday, November 14 - 7:00 p.m. ET - BTN
KenPom projection: Minnesota 69, DePaul 68

History: DePaul has a 10-8 all-time record against the Golden Gophers with a win in the last meeting. That was back in 2019, when the Blue Demons got a victory at Minnesota as part of a 12-1 non-conference performance. Charlie Moore had 21 points and 12 assists in that 73-68 win the day after Thanksgiving.


Matchup to Watch: DePaul's defense vs. Dawson Garcia


DePaul will face a familiar foe tonight. Former Marquette player Dawson Garcia is now on his third team in three years, and he looks good with Minnesota. Garcia leads the team in scoring, and he put up 23 points in the opener. How DePaul's defense can handle him without Nick Ongenda will be the situation to watch.


Butler at Penn State

Monday, November 14 - 8:30 p.m. ET - FS1
KenPom projection: Penn State 76, Butler 64

History: These teams have met just three times, with Butler posting a 2-1 record. Penn State took the last meeting in 1992, when the teams split a home-and-home series. Butler's Darin Archbold's put up 28 points, but it wasn't enough as the team fell 67-64.


Matchup to Watch: Butler shooters vs. Penn State defense


The Bulldogs could not shoot the ball last year, and, despite bringing in Eric Hunter Jr., the team went 4-24 from deep in the opener. Penn State likes to shoot the ball, but it's perimeter defense has not been great. The Bulldogs will have an opportunity to shoot the ball, and they may have to hit a ton of their looks to stay in this one.


Northwestern at Georgetown

Tuesday, November 15 - 6:30 p.m. ET - FS1
KenPom projection: Northwestern 72, Georgetown 71

History: This is a new one! These teams have never met before despite being strong academic institutions with over a century's worth of history playing college basketball.


Matchup to Watch: Georgetown paint offense vs. Northwestern defense


Northwestern's interior defense has been rock solid this year. The team is currently fourth in 2-point percentage allowed and 21st in block percentage. This should provide a good test for the Hoyas who like to get the ball down low.


Marquette at Purdue

Tuesday, November 15 - 8:30 p.m. - FS1
KenPom projection: Purdue 78, Marquette 69

History: Marquette and Purdue are meeting for the third time in the Gavitt Games and the 11th time overall. The Golden Eagles are 1-9 agains the Boilermakers, with the one win coming in 2019 at home. Koby McEwen and Markus Howard combined for 41 points in that 65-55 victory.


Matchup to Watch: Purdue paint offense vs. Marquette defense


Led by the 7-4 Zach Edey, Purdue's offense is very good in the paint. How Marquette handles them down low, especially on the offensive glass, could decide this game. This will be a big test for the 6-9 Osa Ighodaro.


Iowa at Seton Hall

Wednesday, November 16 - 7:30 p.m. - FS1
KenPom projection: Seton Hall 76, Iowa 75

History: Seton Hall and Iowa have met twice, both in Iowa City, and split the two meetings. The first was in 1982, a game the Hawkeyes won 85-63. The second came in 2016 in the second year of the Gavitt Games. That game featured five 20-point scorers: Peter Jok (30), Myles Powell (26), Desi Rodriguez (25), Tyler Cook (24), and Khadeen Carrington (20). Seton Hall took that one 91-83.


Matchup to Watch: Iowa offense vs. Seton Hall defense


Seton Hall's defense has been stifling, allowing 52 and 44 points in the first two games. Led by Kris Murray, Iowa's offense is averaging over 100 points per game. The Pirates are expected to win with defense, and this might be their biggest test all season.


St. John's at Nebraska

Thursday, November 17 - 6:30 p.m. ET - FS1
KenPom projection: St. John's 83, Nebraska 72

History: These two teams have met just once. It was also a Thursday night game at Carnesecca that started at 6:30, and the Red Storm ran away with it. Behind 22 points from Shamorie Ponds, St. John's defeated Nebraska 79-56 back in 2017.


Matchup to Watch: St. John's ball-handling vs. Nebraska defense


St. John's has been careless with the ball so far this season. The Red Storm have 39 turnovers through two games. Nebraska's defense, meanwhile, has not been good at poking the ball loose. This is a potential get-right game for St. John's to focus on protecting the ball a little bit more.


No. 12 Indiana at Xavier

Friday, November 18 - 6:00 p.m. ET - FS1
KenPom projection: Indiana 73, Xavier 71

History: Xavier is just 1-8 all-time against Indiana. The lone win came in the last meeting between the teams when the Musketeers took down No. 8 Indiana in 2007. C.J. Anderson had 19 points for Xavier, and B.J. Raymond contributed 19 more off the bench in the 80-65 win.


Matchup to Watch: Xavier defense vs. Trayce Jackson-Davis


Jackson-Davis is a monster in the paint, which is exactly where Xavier's defense struggled last season. How Jack Nunge, Zach Freemantle, and Colby Jones are able to contain the big man will likely decide if Xavier can pull off an upset.


Villanova at Michigan State

Friday, November 18 - 8:00 p.m. ET - FS1
KenPom projection: Michigan State 70, Villanova 67

History: Villanova is 3-1 against Michigan State all-time. The last meeting came in 2002 in the Great Alaska Shootout semi-finals. Behind 29 points from Gary Buchanan, the Wildcats advanced 81-73.


Matchup to Watch: Villanova 3-point shooting vs. Michigan State defense


Villanova attempted just seven 3-pointers at Temple, their lowest number in over 20 years. Michigan State held Gonzaga to just 4-18 from deep on an aircraft carrier. The Wildcats need a better showing from deep, and finding their groove against a tough defense and on the road would go a long way to developing this offense.



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