The Big Ten approved changes to the future of conference basketball scheduling on Thursday morning as men’s basketball will now feature 20 conference games per season.
Beginning with the 2018-19 season, the Big Ten will now have 20 league games instead of 18 in men’s basketball as the format means that more in-state rivalries will be played twice a season.
According to a release from the conference, the new format for men’s basketball will feature teams playing seven opponents twice and six teams once (three home, three away) during each conference season. The Big Ten’s three in-state rivalries (Illinois/Northwestern, Indiana/Purdue and Michigan/Michigan State) will all be guaranteed two matchups every year while the new 20-game format also allows for a “regional component” that should increase the frequency of games among teams in similar areas.
After the Big Ten scheduled all three of their in-state rivalries to play only one time each during the 2017-18 season, this is probably the right move in terms of conference scheduling. While playing more than half of your season games against conference opponents isn’t entirely ideal, with a 14-team league, the Big Ten had to make a tough decision and they chose to protect their internal rivalries. I’m sure the fanbases of those programs would prefer a home-and-home with a heated rival as opposed to another non-conference clash that could be underwhelming.
The Big Ten also made changes to the women’s basketball schedule on Thursday as that conference schedule will be bumped up to 18 games per season.