Part One: Breaking down the 2023 Gavitt Games matchups
Big Ten & Big East teams square off in what typically features a host of marquee fixtures. Pictured below are two coaches that will face off against each other: Thad Matta (Butler) and Tom Izzo (Michigan State).
PIC: Eric Albrecht, The Columbus Dispatch
It was revealed to sources at CBS Sports on Tuesday that the Gavitt Games matchups have been set. Despite the Big Ten boasting 14 programs and the Big East playing home to 11, we will only see 8 matchups (presumably due to TV negotiations).
Here are the unconfirmed matchups we will see in the 2023 Gavitt Games.
Purdue vs. Xavier
St. Johns vs. Michigan
Michigan State vs. Butler
Illinois vs. Marquette
Villanova vs. Maryland
Creighton vs. Iowa
Providence vs. Wisconsin
Rutgers vs. Georgetown
OMITTED (Big Ten): Minnesota, Nebraska, Indiana, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State
OMITTED (Big East): UConn, Seton Hall, DePaul
Let's break down the first three matchups in this Part One of Three.
Xavier at Purdue
The Musketeers have won the last five against Purdue; the Boilermakers' last win dates back to a 2001 pre-Christmas contest in West Lafayette, Indiana. Now, Purdue - who was the #1 overall seed for most of last year's regular season - looks to start the year hot against one of the Big East's powerhouse programs of the past two years, and one that likely returns a good chunk of its starters. This is the game to watch - these teams will square off for the first time since 2012, a low-scoring game in which Xavier came out on top 63-57.
Michigan at St. John's
Does Rick Pitino vs. the Michigan Wolverines sound familiar? The 2013 NCAA Championship was one of the all-time most memorable, even though it was later vacated due to the scandals the Louisville Cardinals were caught up in afterwards. Michigan had National Player of the Year Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Glenn Robinson, Nik Stauskas, and many more names you'll recognize. Louisville had awesome talent in Montrezl Harrell, Russ Smith, and Gorgui Deng. While the talent ten years later pales in comparison, the storylines certainly don't lack. Does the recently vindicated Rick Pitino, who did plenty of winning at his last stop at Iona, have the appetite to rebuild his legacy? Are Juwan Howard's days numbered at Michigan? We find out in November or December.
Butler at Michigan State
It simply doesn't seem to matter how Michigan State fares up in the regular season; they come alive when the March Madness lights go on. After being a first-round exit in the 2023 Big Ten Tournament, they landed a #7 seed and drew #10 USC - an upset in which many chose the Trojans to end the Spartans' season early (ironically enough with their names). But Michigan State not only beat USC; they picked off the newly-minted Big East champions in Marquette the very next round. If not for a red-hot Kansas State team with most of America on the side of New York-born Markquis Norwell and his first time playing at Madison Square Garden, many would have taken them to beat America's team of destiny - FAU - in the Elite 8. But now things shift to 2023-24 for Tom Izzo, who has retained two of his best players for the upcoming year: Tyson Walker and Malik Hall are both back in East Lansing. AJ Hoggard & Jaden Adkins are NBA Draft hopefuls, but if their feedback from scouts supports another year in college, they'll join their teammates back in the Big Ten. Butler, on the other hand, is in the midst of a rebuild with Thad Matta about to enter year two of his second stint in Indy. They have some weapons, including Manny Bates, the 6-11 transfer from NC State who had a solid first year for the Bulldogs. They also saw a breakout year from Lithuanian sharpshooter Simas Lukosius, who transferred to Cincinnati a few weeks ago. Butler has plenty of work to do this offseason.