The Big Ten tournament is a little different this year. The tournament takes place a week earlier than normal, and gets a change of venues with New York City’s Madison Square Garden playing host. Teams tipped off on Wednesday, February 28, while the champion will be crowned on Sunday, March 4. Like all conference tournaments, the winner of the Big Ten tourney will get an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.
The move to Madison Square Garden meant the conference needed to move the tournament up a week from the normal championship date of Selection Sunday. This pushed the Big Ten regular season games closer together, but it will give the tournament teams an extra week of rest.
Commissioner Jim Delaney was not pleased with the condensed schedule as he explained to the Chicago Tribune, and expects next year’s tournament to be a week later.
I appreciate the sacrifices the teams made, the impact it had on our students. Wasn’t good. Wasn’t healthy. I thought starting [the conference schedule] early was okay, but if you look at our schedules, we’ve been able to give everybody two-day prep [before games] in 99 percent of the cases.
We won’t do it again this way, and I take responsibility for asking the coaches. … If we can make it back to the Garden on a regular week, that’s great.
I know we will be back out East. Where we will be, I don’t know. It won’t be on a regular basis. I expect that 80 percent will be in legacy territory [Chicago and Indianapolis] and probably 20 percent out East, whether it’s in D.C. or Philadelphia or New York.
As for the tournament itself, Michigan State is the favorite to win. The Spartans would be a favorite to receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament if they are able to win at Madison Square Garden. Given Michigan State has already reached the semi-finals, the lowest the Spartans would likely fall in March Madness is a No. 2 seed.
Tom Izzo spoke with The Detroit News about the competitiveness of the tournament.
“We are getting to the point where it’s a little like the ACC and the Big East where the conference tournament means more than the regular season,” Izzo told The Detroit News. “And in all fairness, the regular season with an 18-game schedule, to persevere through that is probably more difficult than the conference tournament. But it seems like people put more on the conference tournament, so I’ll adjust and do whatever I want.”
It remains to be seen how the additional week off will impact Big Ten teams once they reach the NCAA tournament.
Here’s the schedule for the remaining games courtesy of the Big Ten.
Big Ten Tournament Schedule 2018
Friday, March 2
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 7 Penn State 6:30 p.m. Eastern Big Ten Network
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Rutgers 25 minutes after Penn State-Ohio State concludes
Saturday, March 3
No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Michigan 2 p.m. Eastern CBS
Ohio State/Penn State vs. Purdue/Rutgers 25 Minutes after Michigan State-Michigan concludes
Sunday, March 4
Championship Game: Michigan State/Michigan vs. TBD 4:30 p.m. Eastern CBS
Source: Heavy Sports