By: Trent Condon
In November of 2012, it was reported that Maryland and Rutgers would be joining the Big Ten, making the conference 14 members. Neither brought much to the table in terms of football prestige, but they did add value in terms of revenue with the New York City and Washington, DC television markets. The Big Ten, in conjunction with the Big Ten Network (BTN) wanted to get the network into those markets on the basic cable/satellite packages. In those terms, mission accomplished. But in order to appease these new members and grow the advertising for BTN, the conference has made moves towards the east. Last season the conference basketball tournament was in Washington, DC and next year they will play the tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York.
A few issues have arisen because of the move next season to MSG. The first is the timing of tournament. Because the Big East still controls the building the week before the NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten will have to play their tournament a week earlier. That means that they will be playing their conference tournament during the same time as the Missouri Valley, MAC and Horizon leagues. It also means that teams will be off for as much as 2 weeks before they play their 1st game in the NCAA Tournament. You have to assume that coaches won’t be excited about trying to shake the rust off in the opening round of the Big Dance.
Another problem that has come up is the regular season schedule for 2017-18. With a week chopped off the schedule because of the early start of the conference tournament, the Big Ten had to find a way to get the 18 game schedule in. Rob Dauster of NBC Sports has an article talking about what the Big Ten will do. http://collegebasketball.nbcsports.com/2017/05/04/big-ten-to-begin-league-play-first-weekend-of-december-in-2017/
The league will play 2 conference games during the 1st weekend of December. Teams will play one home conference game and one road game. The games will be played either Friday/Sunday or Saturday/Monday. Dauster said, “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.”
The Big Ten is giving up being the lead in to the NCAA Tournament selection show, putting teams at a disadvantage with a long lay off before the Tournament and putting 3 big games early in the season all to get the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. Everything is for sale. As always, just follow the money for the real reasons for these crazy moves.
Trent Condon provides updates and commentary for the Marty and Miller TV program. You can watch “Marty & Miller” Weekdays from 3:00-6:00 on Mediacom 22 and stream at martyandmiller.com. Trent also hosts “Jimmy B & TC” weekdays from 12:00-3:00 on 1700 KBGG.