It may not be March but that doesn’t mean Jon Rothstein isn’t still breaking news. Longtime personal enemy of mine Rothstein is reporting (as of 1 p.m. CT on Thursday it is now official) that the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hoops team will be hosting the Providence Friars in this year’s Gavitt Games. I’d link to Rothstein’s tweet here but I have long been blocked by him and I don’t want to switch the Twitter on my laptop from my personal one to B5Q. There are just some things I won’t do for you people.
Wisconsin Providence— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) June 24, 2021
Gavitt Tipoff Games pic.twitter.com/bTKuqWbkTs
While they didn’t happen last year the Gavitt Games, the annual showdown between the Big Ten and the Big East, has been going on since 2015 and has produced some fun non-conference matchups. Here are the rest of the games for the 2021 iteration:
Ohio State at Xavier
St. John’s at Indiana
Seton Hall at Michigan
Michigan State at Butler
Illinois at Marquette
Rutgers at DePaul
Creighton at Nebraska
The Friars will be missing do everything all-conference guard David Duke, who declared for the NBA Draft, and sophomore wing Greg Gantt, who transferred to NC State, but they still have a number of good pieces left heading into the 2021-22 season.
Leading the way is 6-foot-10 senior big man Nate Watson who is an excellent rebounder and rim protector and will probably lead the team in scoring. He isn’t a threat to shoot from the outside (0-of-0 from three last year) but he’ll give the young Badgers fits down low. A familiar name to Wisconsin fans will be grad transfer Aljami Durham (formerly of Indiana) who will try to offset some of the lost stats that went out the door when Duke turned pro.
Per Bart Torvik’s preseason projections, Providence will be the No. 48 team in the country. Wisconsin is listed at No. 56, so this should be a pretty even and fun matchup. The Friars finished last season at 13-13 overall and 9-10 in the Big East. They lost to Indiana, the teams’ only common opponent, by 21 points early in the season, while the Badgers beat the Hoosiers in double OT.