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Ranking the best 2023 Gavitt Games matchups

Thanks to Jon Rothstein, we have the matchups for the 2023 Gavitt Games. And boy, will these games be a doozy. Here are the best Gavitt Games matchups from least to most interesting.

8. Butler Bulldogs at Michigan State Spartans

Yes, this is a rematch of the 2010 Final Four. And yes, Butler's Pierre Brooks did transfer from Michigan State last month. Despite those two storylines, this matchup is not particularly interesting. Michigan State is expected to be one of the best teams in all of college basketball next season, with ESPN's Jeff Borzello ranking them No. 4 in the country in his way-too-early top 25. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are coming off a season with more blowout losses than any other Big East team. Even with the additions of Brooks, Posh Alexander, DJ Davis, and Jahmyl Telfort, it'll be tough for Thad Matta's team to compete with Michigan State on the road.

7. Georgetown Hoyas at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

This should be Ed Cooley's first test as head coach at Georgetown, and it's a tough one. No one has a good time playing at the RAC. Rutgers barely missed the NCAA Tournament last year and finished .500 in a tough Big Ten. Meanwhile, the Hoyas are in rebuild mode. That rebuild includes interest in Rutgers-transfer Cam Spencer who was a late entrant to the portal. Spencer is a sharpshooter who was one of the leading scorers for Rutgers a year ago, and, if he picks Georgetown, this potential revenge matchup becomes a lot more interesting. For now, it's just a barometer of where the Hoyas are in year one of a new era.

6. Iowa Hawkeyes at Creighton Bluejays

Both of these teams lose a lot heading into next year. The Hawkeyes lose over 34 points per game between Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca, while the Bluejays are only guaranteed to return Baylor Scheierman from a team that went to the Elite Eight last year. If Greg McDermott can get Trey Alexander and Ryan Kalkbrenner to return and join Scheierman and Utah State-transfer Steven Ashworth, this is a group that can make noise in March yet again. Creighton should be favored at home, but Iowa's offenses under Fran McCaffery have typically packed enough firepower to pull off upsets.

5. Marquette Golden Eagles at Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois went through a roster changeup this offseason with Terrance Shannon Jr., Matthew Mayer, and Jayden Epps all hitting the portal. This team has no returning scorers who averaged in double-figures last year, but Brad Underwood has plenty of players coming to the rescue. Three strong transfers and two four-star freshmen join the roster next season as the new-look Illini led by Dain Dainja look to upset the reigning Big East champs. At the other end of the floor, Shaka Smart should return just about everyone from a team that was elite last year. Illinois is good enough to pull the upset, but will this group be ready to face one of the best coaches in basketball early in the season?

4. Michigan Wolverines at St. John's Red Storm

Both of these teams have had rosters in flux, with Michigan still finalizing it's roster for next season after a short stay from Caleb Love. Still, this is Rick Pitino in Madison Square Garden against Michigan. What's not to love? This should be a great environment, and it'll tell us a lot about what each of these teams will be this season. Pitino built around center Joel Soriano this offseason, adding shooting and star power in the form of Daniss Jenkins and Jordan Dingle. It's a group that should be able to reclaim New York and turn Madison Square Garden back into a true home court for the Red Storm.

3. Xavier Musketeers at Purdue Boilermakers

Xavier is fresh off a second-weekend run in Sean Miller's first NCAA Tournament back with the Musketeers. Purdue was a No. 1 seed last year before a stunning upset at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson. Miller and Boilermaker head man Matt Painter are two of the better coaches in the sport. Both of these teams project as tournament squads ahead of next season, and it wouldn't surprise to see either making a deep run. Zach Edey's status is still in limbo for Purdue, but Fletcher Loyer is poised to take a big step next year. Xavier's resident Zach already announced his return, with Zach Freemantle looking to bounce back after last season was cut short by a leg injury. This is set to be a battle between two well-coaches Midwestern teams with strong fanbases, and it should be excellent to watch.

2. Wisconsin Badgers at Providence Friars

A lot has changed since these teams met in the 2021 Gavitt Games. Ed Cooley has been replaced by Kim English, who may face a top 25 opponent in his first two weeks coaching the Friars. Wisconsin, with four returning scorers who averaged double-figures last season, placed No. 22 in Jeff Borzello's way-too-early top 25. Chucky Hepburn, Steven Crowl, Connor Essegian, and Tyler Wahl headline a Badger squad that also adds two four-stars and AJ Storr from St. John's. The Badgers should continue to play elite defense and get a boost to their scoring next year. Providence returns Big East Player of the Year candidate Bryce Hopkins, league defensive player of the year candidate Devin Carter, and a whole host of talented guards as Kim English looks to implement his offensive style. The Friars have a chance to prove their relevance in the post-Ed Cooley world in a big way.

1. Maryland Terrapins at Villanova Wildcats

These two schools sit just two hours apart on I-95, and it was a drive Hakim Hart was happy to make, transferring from Maryland to Villanova this offseason. Kyle Neptune's second year as Villanova's head coach began by hitting the portal and restocking the cupboard after an underwhelming first year. In are Hart and TJ Bamba, set to join the returning duo of Justin Moore and Eric Dixon. It's a veteran quartet set to lead the Cats back to the dance. Kevin Willard returns Jahmir Young, Julian Reese, and Donta Scott in his second year at Maryland, and he adds a pair of four-star freshmen to the group for next season. This one is a battle of regional foes with championship expectations led by coaches entering their second years with each team. No pressure, though.


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