Dave Gavitt, who the event is named after and who passed away in 2011, was one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Big East.
“This all started with friendship and it ends with competition,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said at a news conference at Madison Square Garden. “This shows Dave’s spirit is with us today as much as when he was with us.”
“Dave was about events and he was always talking about the start of the season,” said Mike Tranghese, the Big East’s first employee hired by Gavitt and his successor as commissioner. “He would be so happy about this, not only the great games but especially with the relationships between the conferences.”
“Dave created the Big East-ACC Challenge, the first of all the early-season challenges. Even back then he talked about getting the season started with a bang. He wanted everybody in the country to have that one opening day. He would have a smile today about this, but if he were here he’d be thinking about getting everybody in the country involved.”
The way it works is that during the first full week of college basketball’s regular season, the Big East and the Big Ten will play eight games, with two each coming on that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Each Big East team will get at least six games during the course of the eight-year deal, which is slated to begin in 2015-2016, while the Big Ten teams will all play at least four times.
This is a great idea for an event for a number of reasons.
To begin with, getting intriguing matchups this early in November is not usual, particularly getting the games to be played on campus. As entertaining as it is to see Duke play Kansas at the United Center or to get eight top 50 programs on a tropical island to play in front of crowds where media outnumber actual fans, what makes college basketball special is just how energized a game and a campus can be. We need more of that early in the season.
The better part is that these games will be played during the week, meaning that they won’t be competing with football on the weekends for eyeballs. Throw in the fact that there are some potentially juicy matchups — Xavier vs. Ohio State and Georgetown vs. Maryland immediately come to mind — and this is precisely the kind of event that we’ve been needing to see early in the season.