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Penn State to Face DePaul as Part of Inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games

Multiple reports claim Penn State will travel to DePaul as part of the first edition of the Gavitt Games, the Big Ten vs Big East Tipoff series.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Update: It turns out the game is taking place at the Bryce Jordan Center on Nov. 17. Here is some info from @PennStateMBB:

Original: Chad's prayers have been answered.

According to multiple reports yesterday, Penn State will play in the first edition of the Gavitt Tipoff Games by facing DePaul in Chicago. The new Big Ten vs Big East mini-series will feature eight games during the first full week of college basketball. Two games will be played on four consecutive nights from Tuesday through Friday, November 17-20. The schedule for this year's full slate has yet to be announced, but with DePaul participating in the Paradise Jam that Friday, Penn State's game will probably be opening night.

Like PSU experienced for years with the B1G/ACC challenge, these made-for-TV events are determined by projected competitiveness and program history. Again the Lions will be playing in a forgettable affair so few will care about and so many will mock. Such is life for losing programs in these ridiculous events (seriously, Villanova vs Nebraska? Illinois vs Providence?).

The Blue Demons aren't very good, and there's little reason to suspect they'll be any better next year. They haven't won more than 12 games in a season since 2007. The university just fired Oliver Purnell after five miserable seasons and replaced him with former head coach Dave Leitao. As you might have imagined, the hire was not well-received. At least this game offers a chance for a win in this early event, since Penn State likely won't know their answers yet to the whole DJ-Newbill-is-gone puzzle.

As for the rest of Penn State's 2015-2016 non-conference schedule, the Nittany Lions are signed to participate in the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, which is now owned by Fox Sports. The multi-team event will give Penn State four games in two locations. They will first play two home games against small schools before heading to Vegas to play two games in the featured bracket (which also includes Kent State, SMU and Colorado). The Vegas games will take place on December 22-23, while the two home games must occur within the 14-day window allowed for MTE competitions per NCAA bylaws.

At his season-ending press conference, Pat Chambers mentioned more road games in this non-conference schedule. Last year's slate featured six games away from the BJC, but only two were true road games. This year Penn State could have as many as five road-trips, not including the Las Vegas tournament. The Lions are due to wrap up series with road games at George Washington (Dec. 8th), at Duquesne, and vs Drexel at the Palestra. They will also likely have to travel in their B1G/ACC challenge game after hosting Virginia Tech this past year. If that indeed is the case, Penn State will play 7 of their 13 non-conference games away from the BJC, the most since the 2004-2005 season. Here's a working skeleton of next year's slate with some educated guessing.

Game Date Opponent Type
1 11/13 TBD Guarantee
2 11/17 or 11/18 vs DePaul Gavitt Games
3 11/? at Duquesne 4-yr Series
4 11/? vs Drexel (Palestra) H-H Series
5 11/? TBD Guarantee
6 11/? TBD Guarantee
7 11/30 or 12/1 or 12/2 at ACC Opponent B1G/ACC Challenge
8 12/5 TBD Guarantee
9 12/8 at George Washington H-H Series
10 12/? TBD Las Vegas Classic
11 12/? TBD Las Vegas Classic
12 12/22 vs Kent State / SMU / Colorado Las Vegas Classic
13 12/23 vs Kent State / SMU / Colorado Las Vegas Classic

With only six home games against mostly small school opponents, this may not be the most enticing home schedule for season ticket holders, but don't be surprised if Penn State starts another home-and-home series at the BJC in place of one or two of those guarantee slots. With Drexel, Duquesne and GW set to come off the schedule next year, Chambers will likely want to avoid starting from scratch with 2016's schedule. They could also desperately use at least one marquee opponent in the BJC before the Big Ten season if they want to attract some fans.

It remains to be seen what will come of the expired Penn State-Bucknell series. Both programs seemed quite interested in continuing the series but no extended agreement has been announced since this year's completion of the 2-for-1 deal inked back in 2012. Another possible candidate for a new series could be George Mason, if Dave Paulsen's inherited schedule is incomplete from the fired Paul Hewitt. Paulsen of course just left his post at Bucknell, where he agreed to the aforementioned series with Pat. A future trip to George Mason would allow Penn State another chance to expose their program in the DC area in 2016.