Year 1 of the Gavitt Games saw the Big East and the Big Ten split the 8 games, 4-4. Villanova, Providence, St. John’s and Xavier beat their Big Ten foes, while DePaul, Georgetown, Creighton and Marquette dropped their games. Providence’s game against Illinois in the inaugural Gavitt Games was their most-watched non-conference game on Fox Sports 1 last season and came in 6th overall of their 18 games that aired that network in the 2015-16 campaign. Year 2 matchups have been leaked thanks to tweets from CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein. You can see all the matchups here. For now, I’m going to take a quick look at Providence’s matchup at Ohio State.
- 2015-16 Record: 21-14 (11-7)
- 2015-16 RPI: 74
- 2015-16 Kenpom: 80
- 2015-16 Postseason: 2nd Round Loss in the NIT
- Key Departures: Daniel Giddens (transfer), Mickey Mitchell (transfer)
- Leading Returning Scorer: Marc Loving, Senior, 14.0 points/game
- Leading Returning Rebounder: Keita Bates-Diop, Junior, 6.4 rebounds/game
- Incoming Recruits: 6’9 Derek Funderburk (70th), Micah Potter (212th), Andre Wesson (299th); rankings courtesy of 247Sports
Ohio State was one of the six Big Ten teams to sit out last year’s Gavitt Games. The Buckeyes had a relatively down year by their recent standards. They missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2007-08 season when they won the NIT. The 21 wins was the lowest win total since Thad Matta’s first season in 2004-05 when the team won 20 games and their 7th place finish in the Big Ten last season was the worst league finish during Matta’s tenure. The Buckeyes do return their entire starting five that was used in 21 of their 35 games a season ago, including former Friar recruit JaQuan Lyle.
A road game against a Big Ten opponent certainly counts as an RPI opportunity for Providence on their 2016-17 schedule which will also feature a pair of games against teams with abysmal 2015-16 RPI’s as part of the 2016 Emerald Coast Classic. Another side storyline to this game will be Providence returning to Columbus, which was the site of their 2015 NCAA Tournament loss at the hands of Dayton. The Friars will play in Ohio State’s on-campus arena — Value City Arena — instead of the downtown Nationwide Arena but they should be used to playing in Columbus with a hostile crowd after losing to Dayton on a “neutral” court at Nationwide Arena in March 2015.
The Gavitt Games is certainly a positive for the Big East and the first two years have provided Providence with games against high major competition that they may not have been able to schedule on their own. Ed Cooley and his staff continue to search for high major scheduling opportunities but they now at least have a road game against Ohio State that should bolster their schedule. Each Big East team is guaranteed to play in the Gavitt Games six times during the eight years of the current arrangement that takes the leagues through 2022. The Big Ten teams are all guaranteed to play in it four times during that span. Games played at the Big Ten school will be televised by an ESPN Network or the Big Ten Network, while games played at the Big East teams’ home courts will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
Follow me on Twitter @pcbb1917