But coaches and Big Ten officials were reluctant to eliminate all open dates from late December through late February to fit in 18 grueling league games. So the league opted to move two Big Ten games to early December, wrapping around the football ...
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ANSWER: The Big Ten elected to play its conference basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City this season, but that presented some timing challenges. The Big East already booked its tournament at Madison Square Garden for the traditional final week before the NCAA Tournament. The only way for the Big Ten to play its tournament at the world’s most popular arena was to move it up a week.
“We polled our coaches at the time and they all felt it was worth the challenges in the schedule to have the opportunity to move our tournament to Madison Square Garden. So we did that,” Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner told me in August.
League officials figured the exposure to New York City was worth chopping a week off the schedule. But coaches and Big Ten officials were reluctant to eliminate all open dates from late December through late February to fit in 18 grueling league games. So the league opted to move two Big Ten games to early December, wrapping around the football championship weekend. The Hawkeyes, for instance, play Penn State on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, then travel to Indiana on Monday, Dec. 4.
With coaches agreeing to bump up the league schedule from 18 to 20 games starting next year, it appears the two early games are here to stay. It was a chance to start Big Ten action with students on campus, which was important. There also was a little bit of scheduling strategy involved with Ohio State playing Wisconsin and Iowa facing Penn State.
“We thought it was a great opportunity to have conference games surrounding our football championship and really do something special with it,” Rudner said in August. “Who knows, maybe we get lucky? On Saturday, we might have a game that features the two participants in football championship game. That would be extra special.”
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