Big Ten and Big East announce new college basketball series

The Big Ten and the Big East conferences announced the establishment of an early-season college basketball series Tuesday, set to begin with the 2015-16 basketball season. The Gavitt Tipoff Games will feature eight games each year between Big Ten and Big East opponents to be played during the first full week of the college basketball season.

The agreement lasts eight seasons and guarantees each of the 14 Big Ten schools participate at least four times. All 10 Big East schools will participate a minimum of six times in the eight seasons.

Games will be played at home arenas. Big East home games will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, while Big Ten home games will be on either ESPN or the Big Ten Network. Two games will be played each on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the first week of the season.

The games will present an increased effort to start the college basketball season strong. It will also provide some tougher competition when teams are usually playing weaker conference opponents. The Gavitt Tipoff will be played just a few weeks prior to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. 

The series is named in honor of Dave Gavitt, a former Providence basketball coach and athletic director. Gavitt was key in the formation of the original Big East in 1979 and served as the commissioner between 1979 and 1990. Gavitt died in 2011; he was 73.

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“We are excited to honor Dave Gavitt and his contributions to the sport of basketball,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement. “Dave was a friend and a mentor to me and often mentioned that college basketball should do a better job of tipping off the season, similar to opening day in baseball. I think he would approve of our effort to start a new tipoff tradition.”

Geographically, the Big Ten and Big East share the Midwest with the likes of Creighton, DePaul, Marquette, Xavier and Butler. With the addition of Rutgers and Maryland into the Big Ten this summer, the Big Ten will have a stronger East Coast presence next year as well.

“We look forward to partnering with the Big Ten,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said. “We have natural connections with the Big Ten through our shared geographic regions, and these competitions promise some exciting new rivalries for our players, coaches and alumni.”

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and @sean_hammond.