When the Big Ten added Maryland and Rutgers, it wasn’t just a ruse to get the Big Ten Network added on more cable plans in a pair of major television markets. No, it was also an excuse to put the Men’s Basketball Tournament in big cities like Washington D.C. and New York. Last year’s event at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital went off without a hitch, but the conference had to do some heavier lifting to pull off the Big Apple this year.
That’s where the schedule comes in. Because Madison Square Garden is already booked for the Big East Conference Tournament when the Big Ten usually plays its five-day shindig, the Midwestern league this year will play at MSG from February 28 to March 4 and then take a week off before the major national tournaments begin. With conference play ending earlier than usual, the Big Ten is pulling out some tricks to squeeze in games where it can.
The biggest adjustment will be each school playing two games between December 1 and December 5 while everyone else is in their non-conference schedule. After the head start, Big Ten play will take a break until resuming on January 2.
The other big change will be games on Mondays and Fridays, which were previously designated as off days by the Big Ten from January through March. Coaches might not like some of the quick turnarounds this creates, but fans will get to enjoy their favorite hoops conference on every day of the week. In fact, from January 9 through February 1, there is a Big Ten Basketball game on every day for 24 straight days.
As for television, we can assume that all league games will be televised by someone. A Big Ten press release names FOX Sports as a television partner alongside the ESPN, CBS, and BTN mix we’re accustomed to. We already know that FOX is messing with the football schedule (it’s been a long time since Penn State vs. Ohio State was on in the mid-afternoon), so hopefully the network won’t tamper too much with basketball.