As all of you know, both Maryland and Rutgers will be joining the conference for the 2014-15 season. The two programs joining the conference is the second recent expansion, with former Big 12 school Nebraska joining the conference in 2011. Past that the conference has been relatively stable for a very long time outside of the addition of Penn State in the early 90s.
While the conference has taken a bit of hit from its fans about the additions this year, with most seeing it exclusively as a way for Jim Delaney to increase television revenue and expand the Big Ten brand, there was considerably less backlash when Nebraska joined the Big Ten just three years ago. Of course I think one of the biggest differences there was people saw a powerhouse football program and embraced the Cornhuskers because of that, ignoring the fact that basketball side of things was adding a historically inept program that hadn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1998 and has never won a game in the NCAA Tournament.
The results early on were relatively predictable for Nebraska, tying for last with Penn State in their inaugural season and finishing at a dismal 12-18. In 2012 they added young and enthusiastic (plus Twitter savy) Tim Miles to rebuild the program. The second season in the Big Ten was more of the same, improving one win and finishing 5-13. Then last season happened, with Nebraska getting hot and working their way into a surprising NCAA bid.
Let's not forget that the Cornhuskers were sitting in early February at 11-10, though, before rattling off eight wins over the last nine regular season games to earn an at-large bid. So while Nebraska appears to be working their way up the Big Ten ladder, there have definitely been a slew of growing pains on their way towards the top.
Enter 2014 and the addition of Maryland and Rutgers. On one hand you have Rutgers, another team with a not so successful history that struggled immensely in their prior conference. While everyone seems to be down on the Scarlet Knights, would it be that absurd for them to climb their way up through the Big Ten within a few years?
Is it likely? Probably not, but at the same time most of you wouldn't have even expected Nebraska to be a tournament team until the last month or so of the season. Why couldn't that hypothetically happen at Rutgers, a program with a considerably better location and market to build a program in. And if Nebraska can do it, then what about Maryland? I think a lot of people have forgotten that the team was highly successful throughout most of Gary Williams tenure and that Mark Turgeon has done an absolutely phenomenal job recruiting and bringing in talent to College Park. The Terrapins would be set if they could simply add some consistency to their game as they already have a team fully capable of competing for the Big Ten title. Honestly, the idea of Maryland establishing themselves as a Big Ten power isn't a surprise and should be the goal for Turgeon upon joining the conference.
And while it has little to do with the actual game, it still has to be said that the addition of Maryland and Rutgers will have a number of additional benefits for the conference as a whole. Everything from increasing the size of the conferences geographic location to the increase of revenue (which is shared between all 14 schools). There's also the possibility of opening new regions for recruiting as the Big Ten invades the east coast. At the end of the day you're adding a program with quite a bit of history and two programs in general that offer plenty of supplemental benefits outside of the game.
So that leads me to today's question, which expansion will ultimately prove to be more beneficial to the conference from a basketball standpoint? The 2011 expansion that added Nebraska or this years addition of Maryland and Rutgers. Vote in the poll and drop a line in the comments section.
Honestly I'm very, very excited over the addition of the Terps.