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Big Ten Announces New Partnership With Madison Square Garden Including 2018 Big Ten Tournament

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A huge new partnership between the Big Ten and Madison Square Garden.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A big announcement for the Big Ten today as the conference officially announced a new partnership with Madison Square Garden and the move to start holding increased conference events in New York City.  With the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, this seemed to be a likely next step.

The most significant announcement is of the 2018 Big Ten Tournament location, which will be in Madison Square Garden.  The event will actually be held in the week preceding Selection Sunday.  This is a chance to the Big Ten's usual conference tournament schedule, which has held the championship game on Selection Sunday.

The Big Ten will also be holding double-headers at Madison Square Garden featuring a combination of basketball and hockey games from 2016 to 2019.  Michigan and Penn State will highlight the first round in 2016.  There does not appear to be information at this time on how that will impact the home schedules of the impacted teams.

Here is the press release in pertinent part:

ROSEMONT, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference announced today an extensive agreement with Madison Square Garden to feature the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in New York City for the first time in 2018, along with men's basketball and hockey doubleheaders hosted by the legendary arena from 2016 through 2019 and a significant branding presence both inside and outside the building.

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The 2018 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will be held at Madison Square Garden from Wednesday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 4, with all 14 conference programs competing for the Big Ten's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The 2018 event will be held one week earlier than previous tournaments, ending seven days before NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.

Big Ten men's basketball and hockey programs will also be featured at Madison Square Garden during the regular season, with four consecutive doubleheaders featuring conference competition held in late January or early February from 2016 through 2019. The first doubleheader will feature the Michigan and Penn State basketball and hockey teams playing at The Mecca on Jan. 30, 2016.

In addition, the Big Ten will receive year-round branding opportunities at Madison Square Garden, including signage inside and outside of the facility and select promotion through print, television and social media outlets affiliated with the arena and its tenants.

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The Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament has been held in either Chicago or Indianapolis through the first 17 years of its existence. The annual event returns to the United Center for the ninth time in 2015 and will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the 10th time in 2016, before making its first appearance on the East Coast when the 2017 event is held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The tournament will return to Chicago in 2019 and 2021 and Indianapolis in 2020 and 2022.

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The Big Ten has made a series of announcements highlighting the conference's increased presence on the East Coast, beginning with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers as future conference members in November 2012. In June 2013, the Big Ten announced the acceptance of Johns Hopkins University as the conference's first sport affiliate member for men's lacrosse, and also announced an agreement to take part in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, sending conference football teams to play at Yankee Stadium on an annual basis.

In May, the conference unveiled plans to take part in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual early-season men's basketball series with the Big East named in honor of Dave Gavitt, and announced that the 2017 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament will be held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. In June, the Big Ten officially opened a second office in New York City and has also secured access to satellite office space in Washington, D.C. Maryland and Rutgers officially joined the Big Ten on July 1, and with broader East Coast distribution, BTN now has more than 60 million subscribers.