Big Ten considering ‘protected rivalries’ for basketball schedule

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While the Big Ten has yet to put together its conference schedule for the 2013-14 season, there was a leak of the single-game opponents for each school and two rivalries caught the attention of many.

Michigan/Ohio State and Indiana/Purdue are both rivalry games that will only happen once next season, with a Michigan official confirming the report that the Wolverines would play the Buckeyes just once to Nick Baumgardner of mlive.com.

With this in mind the conference will reportedly consider protected rivalries for future basketball schedules, similar to what was done when the 12 members were split into two divisions in football when Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011.

“There’s a way to do it,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. “I’m not sure if that decision’s been made, but that’s one of the topics of conversation, is how many protected rivalries do you have, and how do you maintain them?”

While splitting the schools into two divisions won’t happen (the SEC went that route for years, only to scrap the divisions due to the fact that the East was far superior to the West), making the move to make sure bitter rivals meet twice every year would be a good step to take.

But as noted by Brandon in his quote, the conference does have to figure out just how many rivalries will be protected.

Too many protected rivalries could lead to the conference race being slanted in one direction before league play even begins. But to be fair, with conferences as large as they are today unbalanced schedules can have an impact on the title race as well.

If the Big Ten were to have, say, five home-and-home opponents for each team maybe make two of those “protected rivalry” match-ups and allow the other three to rotate annually.

Regardless of how the conference goes about addressing its basketball scheduling, the Big Ten’s best rivalries need to be played twice annually.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.