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The new Big Ten Tournament format is a mistake. Here’s how we’d fix it.

We try to fix it now that the conference is going to 18...and excluding some teams.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan vs Iowa Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As the Big Ten adds UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington to the conference for the 2024-25 season, it’s led the conference to making some hard choices regarding the men’s basketball schedule and the Big Ten Tournament:

What should the Big Ten Tournament format be now that we go up to 18?

  • all 18? A Tuesday-Sunday tournament with the bottom 4-8 teams pigtailing in?
  • 16? A straight-up 4-game-to-completion bracket?
  • 16 with some combo of play-ins?
  • 15, somehow???????? (14 —> 7+1 —> 4 —> 2 —> 1?)
  • keep it at 14?

Ideas please, this is all so dumb.

Thump: SHOULD BE: the format from B1G Name of the Year last year. A 16 team bracket with two play-in games for the 15 and 16 seeds (15 Vs 18 for 15 seed, 16 vs 17 for 16).

This gets the tournament done Wednesday thru Sunday and is still super mean to the bottom four teams.

But apparently they’ve decided on a 15 team format that will be exactly as it is today, except the 10 seed is the winner of a new 10 vs 15 Wednesday game.

Sorry, your top two seeds shouldn’t need more protection than “bottom four team that already played yesterday.”

BuffKomodo: What we do is we make the regular season completely meaningless, because at this point it is. We make a giant plinko board with 18 slots, with each program getting a slot. We drop the Michigan State National Championship trophy down the plinko board and the first slot it hits is automatically in the semi finals with a series of byes.

The empty slot is filled with pictures of Tom Crean. If the trophy lands in the Tom Crean space at any point, your coach is immediately removed and replaced with Mr. Crean and you drop again.

From here, we construct a 17 sided bracket with the plinko drops aligning the bracket. Then, we play.

Oh, and John Beilein is the one dropping the trophy. Really seems like the simplest solution if you don’t think about it.

RU in VA: Is there ANY way we can work an 8 game (2 per day Weds-Sat) Round Robin into this? Lets make it completely unwatchable.

AlmaOtter: Perhaps we should not have invited more guests if we didn’t have available seating. Just a thought. But now that we have: every team needs to play in the BTT. In this corrupt-ass system, can we at least keep the wholesome belief that any team can get hot and make the tourney?

BuffKomodo: The obvious answer is the top 8 team tournament or the seeding with 18 two play in games to balance the field to 16 teams. But that’s no fun to talk about.

Creighton: I say do what we do for baseball and make it harder for teams to qualify. Shrink the field to 8 teams and just do a 3 round knockout tournament. It would add more meaning and intrigue to the regular season, particularly on the final month or so.

My answer was too sincere. I will try to do better and be more cynical in the future.

Thump: Actually if we want to be cynical, NCAA stipulates that conference tournament champion automatically qualifies, right?

Creighton: I love what you’re cooking.

RU in VA: Two coast tournament, West of the Mississippi at the Staples Center, East in NYC or DC, then they meet in Indy for the championship

Thump: Absent the BTT, how many teams from the 18 team big ten can we expect to qualify for the NCAAT per year? 6? 8? No more than 8 for sure.

So I say you exclude the top 8 finishing teams from the Big Ten Tournament.


Thump: Teams 9-18 play a tournament and the winner goes dancing.

Should have had a challenging non-con! Sorry, buddy!

BuffKomodo: But how does the 8 seed improve their NIT seed if they don’t play??

Creighton: By tanking to make the tournament.

misdreavus79: Wait wasn’t it already announced as a 15-team format?

BuffKomodo: The world is your oyster. Who cares what the man says is happening.

Creighton: 15 teams is not enforceable if we collectively choose to ignore it. What’s Petitti gonna do? SWAT all of our athletic directors? Buddy, don’t threaten us with a good time.

AlmaOtter: Become ungovernable, B1G brothers and sisters!

misdreavus: My athletic director let Micah Shrewsberry walk so I wouldn’t mind seeing him governed.

Thump: Lol fucker won’t punish Michigan for cheating, won’t say a WORD about what’s going on with illini basketball.

misdreavus: Eh he punished Michigan, we just didn’t agree with the punishment. Or, rather, we didn’t think it was enough.

Thump: How powerful is Terrence Shannon’s lawyer?

misdreavus: Quite, I’m told.

BuffKomodo: He’s a level 68 Alakazam. He knows psychic and psybeam. We have no chance against him.


misdreavus: Is a poison type that’s slower than alakazam so he gets nuked.

misdreavus79: If all he has is psychic and psybram he gets walled by any dark type.

AlmaOtter: Yeah, if you’re playing past blue/red

BuffKomodo: Think I don’t have a Clefable in my bag? Haha

misdreavus: Even in red and blue all Gengar has is lick while alakazam has reflect and psychic.

He was a high school QB: WTF are you guys talking about?

misdreavus: The BTT.

AlmaOtter: I think we might need to frame this and put it on the site as our mission statement.

misdreavus: (I take it this whole conversation will make it into the article, yes?)

BuffKomodo: Dear god I hope so.

RU in VA: mmmm... might wanna edit a bit. Shannon’s lawyers might have some libel here. IANAL.

AlmaOtter: Your honor, we were talking about Mosquitoes.

MNW: jesus christ

BuffKomodo: Him too.

This is all MNW’s fault. He just gave us a blank template and said go. What’d he expect?

He was a high school QB: I think all teams that haven’t been caught cheating or have players arrested on felony charges should be eliminated from contention since it appears we want to reward that kind of behavior these days.

Beez: Winner stays until you lose. Every team gets two losses before they’re done. Last one standing wins. Random draws for who “defends” the court first and who they play

RU in VA: ^^^^^^^ Royal Rumble style

Beez: Would it take a very long time? Sure. But man imagine Minnesota or some other bad team making the tourney because they only had to play two games due to losing the first immediately and then having a lucky draw.


WhiteSpeedREceiver: The obvious solution is to take the WCC’s bracket, expand it to fit all 18 teams, and have an 8-day tournament.

Thump: Y’know how like Mortal Kombat is supposed to be A Tournament but the bracket is somehow set up so that you have to fight every single other person in it? WCC tournament.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: 17 vs. 16, winner plays 13, winner of that plays 12, winner of that plays 9, winner of that plays 8, winner of that plays 5, winner of that plays 4, winner of that plays 1. 15 vs. 18, winner of that plays 14, winner of that plays 11, winner of that plays 10, winner of that plays 7, winner of that plays 6, winner of that plays 3, winner of that plays 2, winner of that plays the winner of the other side.

BoilerUp89: We should go back to 11.

WSR: 11 teams? I’ll miss Penn State, Nebraska, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Northwestern, and Michigan.

He was a high school QB: 11 is one too many.

WSR: Another reasonable solution is to have even more conference games before the New Year, then have an 18-team tournament where it’s best-of-3 with games played on campus (lower seed hosts 1st game). We don’t need to pretend they’re student-athletes. Let’s whip these serfs into shape and get more free labor.

He was a high school QB: What’s the lowest placing team to win? I know 99 Illinois was last place and made the finals but lost?

WSR: Michigan as the 8 in 2017.

BoilerUp89: Wasn’t that Iowa team that won pretty low?

WSR: 6 in 2001 for the pigeons. 3 double-digit teams have made the final (11 Illinois in 99, 10 Illinois in 2008, and 10 PSU in 2023).

AlmaOtter: Just kill the tournament and do it like the Ivy League does it. There. Fixed the regular season.

misdreavus: The Ivy does a tournament now IIRC.

BoilerUp89: Ivy does a 4 team tourney.

The Actual Takeaways

Thump: Everyone knows what the real solution is but nobody wants to actually have the discussion out in the open.

We need to have two kinds of conferences:

  • Collegiate athletics conferences, and
  • College football conferences.

The whole megaconference thing that’s skyrocketing conference football broadcasting rights is terrible for basically every other sport. We gotta just all come to the table and agree to break football conference agreements off as their own thing, then form conferences that actually make some goddamn sense for sports that are played more often than once a week.

BoilerUp89: While I long for the simpler days of an 11 team conference, if we are going to 18 teams then all should make the conference tourney. One of the things I hate is the conferences that eliminate teams before the post season.

WSR: Especially if there’s an unbalanced schedule.

Kind of...: Top four get double-bye. #5 and #6 get a bye.

7 vs. 18, 8 vs. 17, 9 vs. 16, 10 vs. 15, 11 vs. 14, 12 vs. 13 on Tuesday on home court of better seed.

Winners advance to 12 team tournament commencing Thursday in Chicago/Indy/wherever. Re-seed so lower two winners play 5 and 6, other four play each other. Winners play top four in quarterfinals on Friday and you’re off and running.

Every team makes the tournament, but only 12 get to play at the neutral site. B1G has plenty of experience running that type of event.


Which option are you choosing?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    The Big Ten knows best; 15 teams.
    (1 vote)
  • 30%
    18 teams, mega play-ins on Tuesday.
    (51 votes)
  • 15%
    Kind of’s home site option
    (26 votes)
  • 1%
    A 4-team, Ivy-style tournament
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Go back down to 11 teams
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Mortal Kombat/WCC-style tournament
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Royal Rumble
    (5 votes)
  • 8%
    Saffron City Gym-style with a level-68 Alakazam
    (14 votes)
  • 5%
    RU in VA’s two-coast tournament
    (10 votes)
  • 12%
    Thump’s "No Top 8 Allowed" tournament
    (21 votes)
  • 8%
    The Plinko-style tournament
    (14 votes)
  • 5%
    Inexplicably, something else
    (9 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now