Earlier this week, the Big Ten’s coaches voted to approve the move to a 20-game conference schedule. The change will begin next season and, in addition to giving teams fewer non-conference games, creates regional rivalry series with the extra games, the league announced Thursday.
“We looked at the place of basketball, not only in the Big Ten but nationally, and really came to a conclusion ... that we needed to control the number of quality games,” conference commissioner Jim Delany said Thursday. “We felt we could add quality games in basketball.”
This means a boost to the strength of schedule for teams with in-state rivalries like Indiana and Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State, and Northwestern and Illinois. However, for Maryland basketball, the move likely means an annually guaranteed home-and-home against Penn State and Rutgers.
When confronted with that reality at his press conference at the Big Ten media day in New York, head coach Mark Turgeon (unsurprisingly) had nothing but good things to say about those programs’ progressions.
"Rivalries are going to take time to establish themselves in the area,” he said. “But [Pat Chambers is] doing a terrific job at Penn State. Steve [Pikiell] is going to do a great job at Rutgers. If those do become our rivals, I guess we'll play more local games, I'm not sure the real breakdown, but got a lot of respect for their programs.”
Those are answers you’d expect, but when you take into account that the entire reason the league decided to extend conference play was to get more teams into the tournament, Maryland gets the short end.
Since joining the Big Ten in the 1992-93 season, the Nittany Lions have made the NCAA tournament just three times and have amassed a 17-37 conference record since 2014. Meanwhile, Rutgers has yet to make a tournament since joining the league with Maryland in 2014, going 6-48 in Big Ten play. For reference, Maryland is 34-16 in conference play and hasn’t missed March over the same time period.
In time, the Terps may develop a true hardwood rivalry with one of these teams, but at least for now, Maryland seems to be more of a benefactor than a beneficiary of the move.
In other news
Here’s the rest of Turgeon’s press conference from Big Ten media day, as well as Maryland’s backcourt of Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan on Big Ten Network Live.
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