The Big Ten announced on Thursday morning that it will be expanding the schedule of both men’s and women’s basketball starting in the 2018-19 season. Next year, the men will play 20 league games and the women will play 18. Currently, the men play just 18 league games while the women play 16.
The larger slates will allow the men’s teams to play seven opponents twice and six opponents once. Fans of rivalry games will be glad to hear that three in-state matchups will be locked in for two games each season. Those matchups are Michigan vs. Michigan State, Illinois vs. Northwestern, and Indiana vs. Purdue.
There will also be a “regional component” added to conference scheduling that will allow teams in “similar areas” to play each other a little more often than they do other teams. Over the course of a six-year cycle, regional opponents will play each other 10 times compared to 12 times for in-state rivals and nine times for non-regional opponents.
If that sounds confusing, it’s because it is. Just know that Penn State will now be playing Maryland, Rutgers, and Ohio State a little more often than they might if two-plays were distributed randomly. However, as of now, the Lions do not have a rival that they will play twice every season.
When asked about Penn State and Rutgers possibly becoming rivals for Maryland at Big Ten Media Day, Terps head coach Mark Turgeon was nonplussed.
I think being new to the league, rivalries are going to take time to establish themselves in the area. But Pat's 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.
Watch it, Coach. Only Penn State is allowed to be Unrivaled, okay?
The women’s schedules will also account for in-state rivalries and regional opponents, but the specifics have not been announced yet. We’ll hear more about the 2018-19 Big Ten basketball schedule at a later date.