The Big Ten released dates for conference basketball games on Wednesday. Taken as a whole, it’s sort of an engineering marvel. To put it another way, the conference had to get creative for a couple of reasons in 2017-18.
Moving the conference basketball tournament to Madison Square Garden meant the Big Ten had to slide a couple of conference games into early December, normally reserved for nonconference play. We’ve known that was coming for a while now, but that wasn’t the only impetus for change a Big Ten official told the Sporting News.
“The compression of the schedule, the fact that we’ve added a new television partner — we now have four partners in basketball — and also the fact we have facility challenges across the conference really adds up to a perfect storm in 2018,” Mark Rudner, the Big Ten’s senior associate commissioner of television administration, told Sporting News. “None of us really expect this to carry on into 2019 and beyond.”
Early December games are just the start, however. The Big Ten will also play games on Mondays and Fridays this season, two days that haven’t typically been a part of the conference calendar. The Huskers didn’t draw any conference games on a Friday, but will play on three consecutive Mondays in January: Illinois (Jan. 15), at Ohio State (Jan. 22) and at Wisconsin (Jan. 29).
The challenges Rudner mentioned also led to a couple of one-day prep scenarios where teams will have to play two games in three days. Nebraska opens Big Ten play that way, making a trip to Michigan State on Dec. 3 and hosting Minnesota Dec. 5. That’s the Huskers’ trial-by-fire stretch of the schedule. Nebraska also faces Creighton on the road (Dec. 9) and hosts Kansas (Dec. 16). That all comes on the heels of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of challenges with what we’re doing,” Tim Miles said yesterday. “By the time you get through Minnesota, Michigan State, Creighton, Kansas and then that Orlando tournament, I think that’s going to be a very high level. I think by the end of the regular season it will be another top five nonconference schedule.”
If you’re a Big Ten hoops omnivore who likes to consume as much conference basketball as possible, you’re going to have a busy winter. Per the Sporting News, there will be Big Ten basketball on 51 of the 55 days between Jan. 2 and Feb. 25.
The Grab Bag
- Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated looks at the evolution of tackling and how coaches practice it in today’s game.
- If there’s any room at the bottom of what is already a pretty long list, you can add preseason predictions to the docket of things Nick Saban hates.
- CBSSports.com released its preseason All-America team.
- ICYMI: Features on Caleb Lightbourn, Tony Butler, Nebraska’s safeties and what 10 wins would mean for the Huskers in recruiting.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.