When the B1G conference opens up play on December 30th, it’ll be the start of a new era for the conference. 14 teams will now compete for a regular season conference title, meaning that the days of playing against nearly every team twice are gone. According to BTN’s Tom Dienhart the regular season schedule will be on a three year rotation.
The new league schedule system will rotate in three-year cycles. Each school will have five home-and-home foes each season, and eight single-play opponents. As with the previous scheduling format, every Big Ten team will face the rest of the league at least once for an 18-game conference menu. Five of the eight single-play opponents will become home-and-home opponents the next year. The remaining three will appear twice on the schedule in the third year of the cycle.
The conference tournament at the United Center in Chicago will be a five day event for the first time in B1G history. As Jim Delaney and company announced in a press release last Thursday.
All 14 teams will advance to the tournament, with two first-round games slated for Wednesday, March 11. The No. 12 seed will face the No. 13 seed, while the No. 11 seed will take on the No. 14 seed. The top four teams will receive first and second round byes and advance to the quarterfinals on Friday, March 13.
Today’s B1G Notebook takes a closer look at the 2014-15 conference schedule.
Here’s the five best dates on the B1G slate. Is it too early to set the DVR?
Tuesday December 30th — Is there anything better to feed the addiction of us midwest basketball junkies than the B1G conference opener? This year, the start of the season has some good games that could have ramifications down the the line.
- Iowa at Ohio State – Ohio State has arguably the best newcomer to the conference in Anthony Lee and the best incoming freshman in D’Angelo Russell. Iowa has the talent to be a fringe NCAA tournament team. Games like this often set the tone for teams throughout the conference season. Devyn Marble is in Orlando proving he is an NBA talent. The ball is in the hands of Aaron White to get the Iowa program to the next level. Competing in games with top B1G talent is a true start in doing that.
- Illinois at TTUN – Many think that Illinois is going to take a step forward, while TTUN takes a step back. I think Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton might have something to say about that.
- Maryland at Michigan State – This should be a true B1G clash to start the year. Michigan State returns as ton of talent at the guard position. Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson will have their hands full despite Maryland’s loss of Seth Allen, who is transferring out of the program. Senior Dez Wells averaged 15 points per game last season. He’ll lead the Terrapins in their first year outside the ACC since the 1950s.
- Northwestern at Rutgers — This will be a good gauge to see where Rutgers fits in the conference landscape and if Chris Collins’ (who is an Ice Bucket Challenge BOSS by the way) five incoming freshman can compete with the upperclassman of the conference.
Saturday January 10th –
- Ohio State at Indiana — Yogi Ferrell vs. Shannon Scott. Two point guards that are trying to prove that they can be leaders of their squad. Plus a slew of young talent are going to matchup on the court.
- Minnesota at TTUN – We’ll see just how tough the Wolverines are at home right away against what could be an improved Gopher squad. TTUN finished 8-1 on their home floor last season. It will be fun to watch how the Minnesota young guns respond to an environment like AA.
- Maryland at Purdue — If the Boilermakers want to climb out of the doldrums, they need to win games like this one. They definitely have the weapons to improve this season, now it’s time for Matt Painter to earn his keep and turn around the program.
Saturday January 24th –
- Michigan State at Nebraska — Are you kidding me? Tom Izzo vs. Tim Miles. Branden Dawson vs. Terran Petteway. A great game that could set up a future matchup in the postseason. Nebraska started 0-4 in the conference last year but finished the season 8-0 at home and picked up a monstrous win over the Spartan dogs in East Lansing. Mark this game down on your calendar as one of the most entertaining of the year.
- Iowa at Purdue — I look forward to seeing Aaron White for Iowa and A.J. Hammons for Purdue battle in the post. Last year, both teams only played once and it was a back and forth affair. It could be ugly at times, but that don’t mean it won’t be fun to watch.
- Illinois at Minnesota — Can Kendrick Nunn step in for Illinois and give them double the minutes he did his freshman year? One of his highlight games was against Illinois — where he hit 5 threes to ruin Minnesota’s hopes of an NCAA tournament bid.
- Rutgers at Penn State — This could build into a real cool rivalry over the next few seasons. If Pat Chambers picks up some wins, he could lull some of the great jersey talent to Nittany Lion country.
Sunday March 1st –
- Michigan State at Wisconsin — This could be the meat and potatoes of the B1G race coming down to one game. Michigan State is the favorited to win it all, but right behind them is those stinkin’ Badgers.
- Purdue at Ohio State — Just a great matchup at nearly every position. Can Amir Williams stop A.J. Hammons? Who will win the guard play battle? Purdue and Ohio State always show up in the late game on the schedule. Don’t expect anything different this season.
Saturday March 8th –
- Wisconsin at Ohio State — Need I say anymore? Two of the frontrunners for the conference regular season title. Wisconsin returns more experience than any other team. The Buckeyes have one of the most exciting freshman classes in the conference and plenty of experience at nearly every position.
- Maryland at Nebraska — The new guys vs. the new up and comers. Gotta love that story line on the last day of the regular season.
- Penn State at Minnesota — This could be a make or break game for the Gophers and their NCAA Tournament hopes.