The Gavitt Games are back, the best conference vs conference tourney in the country! In the 2 seasons the Games have been played, they have both ended in a 4-4 tie. Please, oh please, someone win this year.
Monday, November 13th
#15 Minnesota at Providence
This is game is the best match-up in the entire Gavitt Games. Providence returns a bunch of talent from last season’s 20-win, NCAA Tournament team. Minnesota is projected to compete in the Big Ten with some of the top dogs, also returning a ton from their 24-win, NCAA Tournament team. The battle down low will be really fun to watch with Rodney Bullock taking on Reggie Lynch. Kyron Cartwright is the key for the Friars to pull off the win. Minnesota needs a good performance from Nate Mason to take care of Providence on the road.
Tuesday, November 14th
#20 Purdue at Marquette
Purdue heads to Milwaukee having scored over 100 points in both games in this young season. Vincent and Carsen Edwards have led the way thus far and will be relied upon to keep that going. Any production from Isaac Haas would be a gamechanger. Marquette needs to put up a good defensive effort and find balanced scoring. Andrew Rowsey is their go-to guy, Markus Howard came off the bench in game 1, but can be a real spark plug for Wojo.
Wednesday, November 15th
Indiana at #23 Seton Hall
Indiana dropped their season opener in embarrassing fashion 90-69 to Indiana State, they were able to bounce-back and beat Howard just two days later 86-77. Not a great start for Archie, but there is talent there if they can get healthy. De’Ron Davis will have to find a way to be effective against the nation’s best big man Angel Delgado. Two games into the season and Delgado has 2 double-doubles averaging 13.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. The Pirates thrive on the defensive end, but if the Hoosiers can get some easy buckets in transition, it could go a long way. Desi Rodriguez can turn this game into a blowout if he can find his scoring touch. Indiana needs Robert Johnson to have a big night and the aforementioned Davis to shutdown Delgado.
Prediction: Seton Hall
Butler at Maryland
Both teams come into the game 2-0. The Terps have rolled at least 12 deep in both games thus far, with Anthony Cowan Jr leading the charge on offense. Kelan Martin has been a monster early for the Dawgs scoring at least 20 points in both games. The key for Butler is guard play, can Paul Jorgensen and Kamar Baldwin contain Kevin Huerter and Cowan Jr. If they can find a way to stop them, it’ll be a Butler winner. This is the game that a guy like Huerter needs to make some big shots in, Justin Jackson will also play a big role in this one.
Creighton at #19 Northwestern
In their first two games, the Jays are averaging 100.5 points per game and Marcus Foster has been that dude in both of em. As was mentioned previously here and here, Foster is one of the best pure scorers in the Big East and has lived up to that early. Northwestern barely escaped Rosemont with a 79-75 win over Loyola (Maryland) thanks in large part to LMBF friend Scottie Lindsey dropping 26 points. Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in this one, but the defense was active and made plays. Watch out for Khyri Thomas, if he has a big night, it should be an easy win for Creighton. The Cats need Dererk Pardon to replicate his performance against Loyola and the Big 3 of Lindsey, Law, McIntosh to have an efficient night.
Thursday, November 16th
Nebraska at St. John’s
The Huskers narrowly eeked one out against lowly Eastern Illinois to open the season, Glynn Watson did his part with a team-high 21 points. St. John’s handled New Orleans in their opener with Marcus LoVett leading the way with 23 points. Shamorie Ponds, despite a poor shooting night, contributed with 12 points 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Nebraska needs Watson and someone else to step up to win this game, Carnesecca is a tough place to play and I really like St. John’s depth. Isaac Copeland needs to be that guy for Tim Miles. He has played here before and understands the Johnnies. For St. John’s it is the two-headed monster of Ponds and LoVett, if they get hot, it will be over quickly.
Prediction: St. John’s
#17 Xavier at Wisconsin
Xavier is a really good team this year, they have leadership, they have scoring, they have depth, and they play that stingy 1-3-1 defense that can complete stall even the best offenses. Blueitt is a Big East POTY candidate and Macura is a difference maker. Wisconsin has a great big man in Ethan Happ, but needs to complementary pieces like Van Vliet, Trice, and Pritzl to perform if they have a shot at winning this one. Happ needs to go for at least 20 and 10 and one of the aforementioned three needs to add another 15 for the Badgers to win this one.
Friday, November 17th
DePaul at Illinois
The in-state “rivalry” that hasn’t taken place since December 7th, 1957 renews on Friday down in Champaign. The Illini won that game back in 1957 75-70, but I’m sure we all fondly remember that one. Illinois enters the game 2-0 having blown out Southern and survived a scare against Tennessee-Martin. Leron Black is the guy for the Illini as Mark Smith is still adjusting to the college game and Mark Alstork has shown early inconsistency. DePaul christened their new Wintrust Arena the only way they know how, with a 72-58 loss to Notre Dame. Lewis transfer Max Strus has the greenest of green lights for Dave Leitao, despite having a more efficient and capable scorer on the roster in Eli Cain. DePaul needs a guy like Devin Gage or Tre’Darius McCallum to have a big night to win this one. For Illinois, they need to force the tempo and get Smitha and Alstork involved early.
Final Prediction: 5-3 Big East
Ultimately, I think the deciding game will be the first one between Providence and Minnesota. The Dunk is an incredibly difficult place to play and this is a Friar team that feels disrespected both in the Big East and nationally. Ed Cooley always has his guys ready for the big stage and it is up to Richard Pitino to show that his team truly belongs in the Top 15 discussion. This is also where I look for Northwestern to show me something. Yes, I know it has only been a single game for the Cats, but after last year’s incredible ride, this is now a team burdened with expectation that no other Northwestern team has ever felt. The time is now for Chris Collins and his club, a win against Creighton would be a nice start.