INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 12: Billy Oliver #35 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after Penn State won 61-48 against the Michigan State Spartans during the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Apparently adding a 12th team to the conference really messed up the schedulers over at the Big Ten front office. Although they have never been particularly timely releasing the conference schedule, this year it's been noticeably late. The schools have known for a few weeks now, but the unfortunate public had to wait for the TV networks to distribute the wealth. While I'm sure the conference will blame TV negotiations for the holdup, at least it's out and we can discuss it. This finally completes PSU's 2011-2012 men's basketball schedule, so you no longer have an excuse not to get season tickets.
The non-conference portion has already been released, while the Big Ten single plays were also announced over the summer. So this might not be the most earth-shattering news, but it is important to know the game order of the conference schedule. For instance, many people including myself thought PSU's 5-game murder row of Purdue, MSU, Illinois, at Ohio State, and at Purdue in early January was going to bury the Lions' season. That turned out to not be the case and a newfound optimism pushed through for the rest of the season. The luck of the draw (or the TV contracts) can dish out brutal stretches or easy win streaks, depending on the team.
To revisit the single-play draws, PSU made out only getting Ohio State once. The Buckeyes are the clear frontrunner in the conference and will likely be a top 5 team throughout the season. That choice didn't really make sense though, since PSU drew OSU once recently in 07-08 and 08-09, but Phil at B5Q proved that they aren't too careful about keeping these things equal.
The rest of the conference to me is wide-open. Wisconsin and Michigan should be good enough to finish in the top half of the conference, but the rest is a crapshoot. Sporting News released their preseason magazine and ranked the conference as follows (h/t InsideTheHall): 1. Ohio State, 2. Wisconsin, 3. Michigan, 4. Michigan State, 5. Purdue, 6. Indiana, 7. Northwestern, 8. Minnesota, 9. Illinois, 10. Iowa, 11. Nebraska and 12. Penn State. Those 4-11 teams I think are going to make for an interesting this year. Nebraska is not that bad.
Anyway, after the jump is PSU's full schedule:
|11/5/2011||SLIPPERY ROCK (EX.)||4:00|
|11/20/2011||vs S. Florida/Old Dominion||2:00|
|11/26/2011||at Saint Joseph's|
|11/30/2011||at Boston College||7:15||ESPNU|
|12/18/2011||MOUNT ST. MARY'S||4:00||BTN|
|12/29/2011||at Michigan||7:30 PM||BTN|
|1/1/2012||at Northwestern||7:00 PM||ESPNU|
|1/11/2012||at Nebraska||8:30 PM||BTN|
|1/22/2012||at Indiana||12:00 PM||BTN|
|1/25/2012||at Ohio State||6:30 PM||BTN|
|2/8/2012||at Michigan State||6:30||BTN|
|2/19/2012||at Wisconsin||1/5/6 PM||CBS/BTN^|
|2/29/2012||at Purdue||6:30 PM||BTN|
*CBS/ESPN wildcard: CBS gets first pick, then ESPN between PSU/UM, UW/ILL, MSU/OSU
Overall, I don't think PSU has anything to complain about with the Big Ten schedule. Yes, they start on the road again for the fourth time in 5 years, but they do have a nice stretch there of 4 home dates in 5 games in January. If they're going to win any conference games, those are some of their best shots to get some early momentum. Ohio State and Wisconsin back-to-back is going to be ugly (in the midst of a 4-road-games-in-5-contests stretch), but the rest of the schedule balances out well. Although I will say I never understood why there will be 60+ days between the Michigan games, but just 14 days between the Indiana games. That's just nit-picking, though.
Here's the official release from the AD.