Marquette basketball to host Illinois in Gavitt Tipoff Games

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Marquette huddles in their 75-73 loss to St. John’s on Jan. 31. (Photo Courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Marquette men’s basketball team will host Illinois Nov. 15 at Fiserv Forum this season for the sixth annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, the BIG EAST and Big Ten Conferences announced Thursday afternoon.

Beginning in 2015, the Gavitt Tipoff Games is an annual early-season series between the two conferences named in honor of BIG EAST Conference Founder and Hall of Famer Dave Gavitt.

Both conferences mutually agreed to cancel the Gavitt Tipoff games last season after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of the 2020-21 NCAA basketball season.

Marquette is 1-3 overall in the competition, with their lone win coming against Purdue in a 65-55 victory at Fiserv Forum Nov. 13, 2019. Illinois is 1-2 overall, with their last appearance dating back to 2018 in an 88-80 loss to Georgetown.  

Both teams will look quite different than they did last year, with key players on both sides still deciding if they will return to college or pursue a professional career in the sport.  

The Golden Eagles have a completely new team set to take the court next season under head coach Shaka Smart’s first season with the program. Only three confirmed key returners are listed on the roster right now in redshirt junior Greg Elliot and redshirt first-years Justin Lewis and Oso Ighodaro.  

Marquette’s leading scorer last season, first-year Dawson Garcia, is currently testing the NBA waters and the draft process while keeping his NCAA eligibility. The 6’11” forward’s decision is something that all Marquette fans have been monitoring over the past couple of months. 

As for the reigning Big Ten Conference Champions, they will be without two of their best players from last season in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn as both declared for the NBA Draft. The Fighting Illini will also be without their star first-year from last year in Adam Miller, who transferred to LSU in the offseason.  

This will be the first time the two teams face off since December 7, 1993, when the Golden Eagles defeated the Fighting Illini 74-65.  

This article was written by Sam Arco. He can be reached at sam.arco@marquette.edu or on Twitter @sam_i_am119.