Next season's inaugural Big Ten-Big East series will be exciting to watch, but as of now it still pales in comparison to its big brother. The B1G/ACC Challenge includes every team from at least one of the conferences each year and tries to set up intriguing match-ups based on the previous season's standings. I understand the logistical nightmare it must have been to get the Gavitt Games approved by the teams in both conferences, but by not trying to replicate those two ideas the event is not going to garner nearly as much hype as its spiritual predecessor. However, if we corrected this omission and made a few other changes I think this could be the event of the year.
First, we should have every Big East team participate, leaving out two teams every year just seems lazy. Second, the teams should be made to play the team in the other conference that earned the same seed in their conference tournament the year before, meaning this year Wisconsin would play Villanova and Creighton would get Northwestern. This also means that unless the Big East expanded, Big Ten teams finishing 11-14 would not get to participate. Teams shouldn't be rewarded for just being in the conference, they have to earn the right to represent us. This might lead to some complaints about fairness if the B1G wins the first few years, but I still think it would be the best way.
The other issue could be that teams will play each other in consecutive years. This is not a problem in my mind until it gets to be about five years straight of the same teams playing, which would not happen due to the parity of these two competitive leagues. Similarly, there could be an problem if teams that already have a scheduled game end up finishing in the same spot in their respective conference, such as Wisconsin and Marquette or Creighton and Nebraska. When this happens, I propose that we simply switch with the closest finishing teams. So instead of 3rd vs 3rd, have 3rd(BE) play 4th(B1G) and 4th(BE) play 3rd(B1G).
My final idea is to play the games at two separate neutral locations rather than at campus sites. Every year the conferences could choose new host sites for what would be a two or three day event. The only stipulation would be that one site would be on the East coast, while the other would be in the Midwest. For the first season it could be MSG, site of some of the Big East's greatest moments, and the United Center in Chicago since Indy has the 2016 B1G Tournament. Next year could be Brooklyn and Indy, Followed by DC and Detroit or Philly and Minneapolis or NYC and Chi-town again. For me, this guarantee of a major B1G event in the Midwest would definitely take some of the sting out of moving the conference tournament to DC and MSG in 2017 and 2018. In order to make it fair to the two regional sites, one would get the 1, 4, 5, 8, and 9 games while the other got the 2, 3, 6, 7, 10 games, and they would switch each year.
For me, these changes would make the Gavitt Games even more anticipated than the B1G/ACC Challenge, which I consider to be my favorite non-conference event every season. The move away from on-campus games would be a bit disappointing to some, but I believe that would be a key distinction between the Gavitt Game and the Challenge and give this new event something unique to hang its hat on. Will any of my ideas ever be implemented? Probably not, and almost definitely not until the initial eight-year deal is up in 2023, but you never know.