The Big Ten released the opponent breakdown for the 2017-18 men’s basketball season on Monday.
And they badly screwed it up.
The Big Ten has a difficult dilemma with scheduling its conference games because they are a 14-team league with an 18-game conference schedule. But the league is taking away a lot of classic rivalries this season that should always feature a home-and-away rivalry.
Here are some examples of rivalry games that we’ll only see once this season during Big Ten conference play:
- National title contender Michigan State and Michigan — coming off of a Sweet 16 appearance — only play one time.
- Indiana and new head coach Archie Miller only play in-state rival Purdue one time.
- Northwestern — fresh off of its first NCAA tournament appearance — only plays in-state rival Illinois and new head coach Brad Underwood one time.
As noted by the SB Nation Purdue site, Hammer & Rails, Purdue will have hosted only one of the last five conference games against Indiana in West Lafayette. Which seems totally fair…
This isn’t a new development. The Big Ten has had this issue with rivalry scheduling in men’s basketball before.
All three of those rivalries even requested that the Big Ten “protect” each of them so that the conference could guarantee a home-and-away series between those schools every year.
Kyle Austin from MLive has some quotes from the Big Ten meetings in May from Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski that drive this home.
Bobinski said he didn’t think the protected rivalries could be added in time for the 2017-18 schedule, but said “I think we’ll get there in the reasonably near future.” Michigan-Michigan State and Indiana-Purdue were the two protected rivalries discussed, and Illinois and Northwestern also requested to have their rivalry protected, Bobinski said.
Clearly, the Big Ten didn’t listen in time to get this right for the 2017-18 season. And that’s a shame. Now we’re stuck with a Big Ten schedule that is missing a lot of fun home-and-away rivalry series this season.
Hopefully, the Big Ten listens to its members and rectifies this rivalry situation for future seasons.