A pair of marquee matchups are some of this year's Gavitt Games Crown Jewels. Two well-known head coaches in Ed Cooley (right) and Steve Pikiell (left) go head-to-head. PICS: USA TODAY & AP
A quick reminder of the 8 matchups we'll see during this year's 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
In our previous breakdown, we went over three matchups. Our own Matt St. Jean gave his take on the rankings of each of the 8 games. Now, we breakdown two many consider to be top-tier contests.
Here are two marquee matchups that will have plenty of eyes in the 2023 season.
Georgetown at Rutgers
A Big East rivalry is restored for the first time since 2013...only this time, with drastically different head coaching situations. Mike Rice Jr. and John Thompson III aren't walking through the doors of their respective programs; if that is for better or for worse, I will let you decide. Instead, it's two big time head coaches that have made their marks in different ways. Ed Cooley shook the college basketball landscape when he left his "dream job" at Providence College to replace Patrick Ewing at Georgetown. Former UConn captain Steve Pikiell has kept Rutgers competitive in each of his seven years at the helm, but the Scarlet Knights have never really got over the hump since then. This year, though, it'll be a unique test in mid-November for each team. As our own Matt St. Jean mentioned, "no one has a good time playing at the RAC," largely due to its deafening acoustics and rowdy fans. While the Scarlet Knights will likely retain most of their roster after just missing out on the Field of 68 & finishing .500 in a loaded Big Ten, Georgetown is in total rebuild mode with many questions to be answered. Ed Cooley certainly hopes his team is ready to compete against national powerhouses on Day One, but the Hoyas may get a rude awakening if Pikiell has his group ready to go.
Wisconsin at Providence
Although Ed Cooley clearly will have his hands full this offseason & into next season, it won't be in Friartown; they've moved on in Providence with clear eyes and full hearts. In March, Providence tabbed two-year George Mason head coach Kim English to call the plays, marking the first time since 2011 someone other than Cooley has played that role. English has done fantastic work to keep the Providence roster largely intact in the offseason, retaining Bryce Hopkins, Devin Carter, and re-recruiting Jayden Pierre after a brief portal stint. But with new leadership comes adversity; who knows how this team will gel together, especially early in the season? One thing is for sure, they'll be tested right off the bat with a tough matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers, who "hung out" around the Top 25 for a good chunk of the beginning of the season. Wisconsin was streaky at times throughout last year, but Chucky Hepburn & Tyler Wahl will be the two guys to watch; many are bullish they'll lead this team to more consistent nods to the Top 25. This may be a contest that the committee looks back at for help determining seeding in March.