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Big East, Big Ten to play annual basketball series

In this March 22, 1975 file photo, Providence

In this March 22, 1975 file photo, Providence coach Dave Gavitt urges his team on to victory in a semifinal NIT NCAA college basketball game against St. John's at New York's Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP / Suzanne Vlamis

The Big East and Big Ten will play an annual men's basketball series against each other in the first full week of the season, the conferences announced Monday during a news conference at Madison Square Garden.

The Gavitt Tipoff Games will feature eight games over four consecutive days. The series, which will start in 2015-16 and span eight years, is named Dave Gavitt, the late founder of the Big East.

"We want to open the season with a bang," Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said. "This gives us a chance to cut through the clutter of football and hopefully give the start of the season its proper due."

The games will be played at the home sites of schools. Each Big East team will participate a minimum of six times over the eight years and Big Ten teams will play a minimum of four games. Big East home games will be televised on FOX Sports 1, while Big Ten home games will be on ESPN or the Big Ten Network.

The inaugural matchups won't be known until next May. Some schools have an existing intra-state series, such as Marquette and Wisconsin, DePaul and Northwestern, and Creighton and Nebraska. The Gavitt Tipoff Games could lead to additional geographical rivalry games such as Georgetown vs. Maryland or Xavier vs. Ohio State.

"You can't go wrong with any of the potential matchups," St. John's head coach Steve Lavin said. "For me, there's the sentimental aspect of my coaching career that began at Purdue 27 years ago. . . . I'll always have a special place in my heart for the Big Ten and it makes this tribute to Dave Gavitt all the more special."

New York Sports