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Why aren't Xavier and OSU playing in the Big East-Big Ten Challenge?

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Wouldn't the event be better if closely matched regional rivals faced off?

Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like Xavier is going to be playing Michigan this year in the Dave Gavitt Tipoff Games, colloquially known as the Big East-Big Ten Challenge. With the Big East having 10 teams to the Big Ten's 14 - and there only being eight games a year in the series - there are bound to be some questionable matchups at points during this eight-year series. Michigan is far from the worst draw Xavier could have gotten.

We're all basically thinking one thing though: we wanted Ohio State. That would have obviously been a great game for off-court reasons - chief among them a chance to take on Thad Matta and challenge his refusal to schedule any meaningful in-state games. From a purely objective perspective though, let's take a look at the comparison between OSU and Michigan in just terms of what they bring to the potential resume.

W L NCAA bids Avg. seed NCAA W Avg. KenPom Avg. KenPom Def Avg. KenPom Off
OSU 123 40 5 4 10 10.2 15 34.6
Michigan 120 57 4 4 9 27.6 72.4 24.4

As you can see, OSU has consistently been the better program, though Michigan did have their run all the way to the final game a couple of years back. Michigan's strength has been their offense, with the Wolverines having the top adjusted offensive efficiency in the nation in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Beilein has always been a good offensive coach capable of molding his attack around his players.

Defense is what OSU does best. This year was a down year for them, finishing outside of the top 30 (at 37th) for only the second time in Matta's 11 seasons in Columbus. Like Beilein, Matta hasn't stuck to a single fingerprint. The Buckeyes' defense has alternately forced turnovers, crushed, the glass, denied the arc, and clogged the lane.

The bottom line isn't much except that we would have loved to see some marquee regional matchups to get this thing kicked off. OSU v. Xavier would have brought some buzz. Nebraska against Creighton would have been a good grudge match further west. Maryland and Georgetown are neighbors. Rutgers and Seton Hall are neighbors. Wisconsin and Marquette, DePaul and Northwestern, Butler and Indiana or Purdue.

All of these things feel fairly intuitive as good backyard rivalry sort of matchups that would get this thing started with packed, enthusiastic arenas. These first two matchups that have leaked don't leave me with a lot of faith that the rest are going to be great, either. Some seemingly fairly simple decisions would have made this a great event, and it's not clear to me why they didn't come to fruition.