It’s been a busy day for the Big Ten, as earlier Monday, the conference was announced as a participant in the newly-created Gavitt Tipoff Games with the Big East to open the college basketball season beginning in 2015.
Now comes news for the Big Ten’s postseason plans as it was reported by multiple outlets on Monday afternoon that the Big Ten Tournament would move to Washington D.C.
The Big Ten’s move to our nation’s capital for the league tournament was first reported by Justin Albers of Scout.com and also confirmed to be at the Verizon Center on March 8-12, 2017 by the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.
Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson confirmed to Prewitt the Big Ten’s plans to move to the home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals for the 2017 edition of the league’s men’s basketball tournament.
A 1 p.m. press conference is scheduled at the Verizon Center on Tuesday that features Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney as well as Anderson and Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon.
“We’re excited the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.,” Anderson said to Prewitt. “The Big Ten has shared its commitment to having a strong presence on the East Coast. It’s a great opportunity for our fans to attend the tournament in our backyard and it should be a tremendous atmosphere.”
The Big Ten has only played it’s men’s basketball conference tournament at Chicago’s United Center and Indianapolis’ Banker’s Life Fieldhouse since the event began in 1998 and it wouldn’t be any surprise if Washington D.C. was permanently alternated into the equation to continue to conference’s growth on the East Coast. With Maryland and Rutgers joining the league in 2014-15, the Big Ten will have a growing East Coast presence to go along with current member Penn State.
The Big Ten is also putting new offices in New York — to go along with headquarters in Chicago — and is also opening a satellite office in Washington D.C.
The Verizon Center will also host the ACC Tournament in 2016.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.