Big Ten basketball is going to feel the aftershocks of the conference’s push to add more east coast Big Ten Network subscribers this winter, as their attempts to spread the league’s footprint will change the schedule for conference play this season.
A year after playing the conference tournament in Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center, the Big Ten will be hosting the event in New York City at Madison Square Garden next March.
On paper, that sounds like a great idea until you consider that the Big East will be holding their tournament in the building as well. What that means is that the Big Ten will be forced to play their tournament a week earlier than usual. The way that the schedule usually works for conference tournaments is that power conference tournaments will host their events the week leading into Selection Sunday with the low- and mid-major leagues playing their tournament games the week prior to that. Typically, the Big Ten has been the league to play the last game before the NCAA tournament Selection Show, tipping off at 3:30 p.m. on Selection Sunday, with the game leading directly into the bracket’s unveiling.
But in order to wedge themselves into MSG, the league will be hosting their conference tournament a week earlier than usual, at the same time as conferences like the Patriot League and the Ohio Valley.
In order to make that timing work, the conference will essentially have to eliminate a week of league play. To make that a reality, the Big Ten has decided that each member of the league will play a home game and a road game the first weekend of December. They’ll play either Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday, depending on when and where they play an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game; that event will be held on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the start of Big Ten play.
In other words, during the final week of November and the first week of December — which will be three weeks after the start of college basketball season and upwards of a month before any other high-major conference starts their league play — the Big Ten will force teams to play one of their most important non-conference games AND their first two league games within the span of six or seven days.
All so that they can make as much money as humanly possible off of the part of the country they’re trying to annex into the “Big Ten cable footprint”.
And there still isn’t enough money to be able to pay athletes, because this isn’t just a business and it’s all about getting a scholarship and an education and playing for the love of the game.