Big Ten Prioritizing In-State Rivalries In Conference Schedule Format Shake Up
CHICAGO -- The Big Ten is shifting up how it will schedule conference opponents for men's and women's college basketball in the coming seasons.
Before conference realignment in 2014, which saw Nebraska, Rutgers, and Maryland join the Big Ten, and even before the addition of Penn State in 1995, every Big Ten school was able to play each other twice annually playing 20 conference games every season. The addition of these four schools bumped the conference to 14 schools, and thus made it impossible for schools to play each other twice in the time allotted for the college basketball season.
This resulted in the Big Ten scaling back the conference schedule to 18 games in which each school played six other schools twice and another six schools once, rotating at the discretion of the conference. In some cases, this format would put some of the conference's most important rivalries in a bind.
For example, this season will see the Indiana Hoosiers and the Purdue Boilermakers meeting only once, traditionally a heated twice annual rivalry.
Now, the Big Ten says they are returning to a 20-game schedule in the 2018-19 season. Each team will play seven schools twice while playing another six teams only once. Another big part of the new format is that it protects the Indiana-Purdue, Michigan-Michigan State, and Illinois-Northwestern rivalries to be played twice annually for the next six years.
The women's format will be of a similar nature except it will only be 18-games long. It will also make in-state rivalries a priority.
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