At Big Ten Media Day this morning, Commissioner Jim Delany announced that the Big Ten would expand their conference schedule from 18 games to 20, starting with the 2018-19 season. This change also makes every in-state rivalry a protected matchup, meaning that Indiana/Purdue, Illinois/Northwestern, and Michigan/Michigan St. will be played twice a year. Thanks to the new provisions, the Hoosier and the Boilers will play a home-and-home for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
To go along with the protected rivalries, the Big Ten will add what they call a “regional component” to every team’s schedule. This is basically an attempt to get teams from the same geographic region to play each other more often. So, you’ll see a lot more Indiana-Illinois and a lot less Indiana-Rutger!
The last major announcement Jim Delany made addressed the extremely stupid plan to move the Big Ten Tournament to New York City. Delany said that there will be a roughly 80/20 split between holding the BTT in the Midwest (where it should be) and on the East coast. After the tournament is held at Madison Square Garden in 2018, it will return to a rotation between Indianapolis and Chicago from 2019-2022. However, if Delany wishes to follow his 80/20 idea, this means the BTT will return to the East coast in 2023 in order to appease the Rutger basketball fans, of which there are many.
Overall, these changes to the Big Ten basketball schedule are a net positive. Protecting the Indiana-Purdue rivalry is a good thing, but I don’t want to give Jim Delany credit for taking three years to figure out something that really should have been common sense. The emphasis on regional matchups is good, since no team should be forced to travel to Piscataway, New Jersey more than once every two years. Sure, having the Big Ten Tournament on the East coast once every four or five years is a bummer, but it looks like that’s the best we can hope for, considering Delany’s obsession with the New York/Washington D.C. TV market. The Big Ten could have done a lot worse, so let’s take what we can get.