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Last updated: Mon. May. 05, 2014 - 12:17 am EDT

Big Ten aims for Big East challenge

Gavitt Games to begin in 2015

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Are the days of scheduling non-conference patsies over for Big Ten basketball programs?

Commissioner Jim Delany is doing his part.

Delany worked with Big East commissioner Val Ackerman to devise a season-opening series called the Gavitt Tipoff Games that will boost schedule strength even as it elevates the Big Ten's East Coast presence. It's set to begin in November of 2015.

The games are named for Dave Gavitt, the original Big East founder and a basketball Hall of Famer. Gavitt died in 2011.

According to SI.com, organizers of the four-day, eight-game event are set to announce an eight-year deal today in New York City that will include ESPN, the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports 1 (the Big East's TV partner).

Add the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge and you have one less reason to see Indiana play, say, Savannah State or Purdue play, say, Maryland-Eastern Shore.

While Gavitt's Big East is gone, the new league has some intriguing challenges. It consists of Butler (which already plays IU and Purdue as part of the December Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis), Villanova, Marquette, Creighton, Xavier, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and DePaul.

There is more overlap as Wisconsin already plays Marquette and Nebraska annually plays Creighton.

According to SI.com, the matchups will be determined by the strength of teams. Every year two Big East teams and six Big Ten teams won't participate.

Villanova won last year's inaugural Big East championship with a 16-2 record. It was 29-5 overall. Seven conference teams had winning records.

The Gavitt Games announcement will come as Delany seeks to maximize the Big Ten's East Coast visibility in conjunction with Maryland and Rutgers officially set to join the conference on July 1. The Big Ten is opening a New York City office to go with its traditional Chicago office. It also has added an affiliation with the Pinstripe Bowl set at Yankee Stadium.

pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com


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