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ESPN claims it has the Big Ten divisional lineup.

Jim Delany will show us his handiwork tonight.
Jim Delany will show us his handiwork tonight.

Adam Rittenberg reports that ESPN's Andy Katz claims the following is the Big Ten's divisional lineup for football:

Division 1: Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota

Division 2: Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois

The Big Ten's official announcement will come tonight at 7 pm EDT on the Big Ten Network.  So, what does this mean for IU? 

Well, it's far from the worst case scenario.  A pure geographic split would have placed IU with Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, and Purdue.  If anything, the other division is a bit tougher than ours.  In the grand scheme of history, Penn State/Ohio State equals Michigan/Nebraska, although the former have been much tougher in recent years.  Wisconsin and Iowa are nearly equivalent.  Michigan State's ceiling probably is higher than Purdue's, but Purdue has been better over the last decade.  Of the remaining four, Northwestern and Minnesota have been  more successful recently than IU and Illinois (although Illinois, the only major public university in the Big Ten's largest state, has by far the highest ceiling of the four). 


The interesting part, of course, will be learning which crossover games are protected.  The placement of Ohio State and Michigan in different divisions guarantees that there will be a protected crossover game.  The slam-dunks are Michigan-OSU and Illinois-Northwestern.   Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez has clamored for a UW-Nebraska rivalry game, so that might happen.  On the other hand, Wisconsin is the only school that doesn't have a single current rival within its division.  My uneducated guess is that for purposes of competitive balance, Penn State-Nebraska and Wisconsin-Iowa will be protected.  That would leave IU and Purdue seeking a match with Michigan State and Minnesota.  They could elect to make the Brass Spittoon an annual occurrence, but my off-the-cuff guess is that they will protect MSU-Purdue and IU-Minnesota.  You can find out how dumb I am at 7 p.m. tonight.