After a two-year absence from the Gavitt Tipoff Games, the annual early season inter-conference showdown between the Big Ten and the Big East, Iowa is making its return to that event this fall. Their opponent? The DePaul Blue Demons, per hoops reporter Jeff Goodman:
Sources: Matchups for the 2019 Gavitt Games are set.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 28, 2019
Villanova at Ohio State
Michigan State at Seton Hall
Creighton at Michigan
Purdue at Marquette
Providence at Northwestern
Penn State at Georgetown
Minnesota at Butler
DePaul at Iowa
DePaul finished 19-17 last season, their first winning record since
2007. Yes, the Blue Demons went 12 seasons between winning campaigns. There's a reason "did depaul win last night" was a meme for several years on college hoops twitter. While they had their best season in over a decade last year, DePaul also finished last (or, rather, tied for last) in the Big East. In fairness, though, the Big East was one big pile of parity last season outside of Villanova (13-5) and Marquette; the other eight teams finished between 9-9 and 7-11 (including DePaul, who was 7-11 in league play).
On the other hand, it's not clear how well DePaul will be able to maintain last year's success (such as it was) in this coming season. Three of their best players last year (who were also their top scorers) were seniors and won't be back in 2019-20. Their top returning players are junior-to-be forward Paul Reed (6'9", 240 lbs) and junior-to-be guard Devin Gage (6'2", 195 lbs). Reed averaged 12.3 ppg on 56.2% shooting and a team-high 8.5 rebounds, as well as 2.6 "stocks" (steals + blocks) per game. Gage averaged 9.1 ppg on 40.5% shooting (just 25.5% from 3-point range), as well as a team-high 3.9 assists per game. They also added Carte'Are Gordon, a transfer from Saint Louis who averaged 8.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 1.8 blocks per game in 13 games for the Billikens in 2018-19 before transferring. Gordon may not be eligible to play when Iowa and DePaul face off in early November, though.
Iowa has a 2-1 all-time record against the Blue Demons, beating them 34-29 in 1938 and losing to them 73-72 in 1956. Iowa won the most recent game between the two programs, 97-86 in 1995. So not a lot of history between the two schools, despite being separated by just 220 miles.
Iowa has a 1-1 record in the Gavitt Tipoff Games since the competition began back in 2015. Iowa smashed Marquette on the road that year, 89-61, but lost at home to Seton Hall (91-83) in 2016. Iowa sat out the Gavitt Games in 2017 and 2018. (Given that the Big Ten has 14 teams and the Big East only has 10 squads, multiple Big Ten teams have to sit out every season.)
Would Iowa have drawn a more intriguing Big East foe in this matchup if they had done a bit better last season and (more importantly) had more key players returning from that team? Probably, yeah. But uncertainty is the name of the game for Iowa hoops with three new starters likely needed for 2019-20 and a very new-look (and inexperienced) back court likely to play big minutes next year, so it's not shocking that they drew one of the less-fancied teams this year. And, on the bright side, it's still a non-conference game against a power conference opponent, which is better than another non-conference home game against a MEAC or SWAC opponent.
Bring on the Blue Demons.