Earlier in the countdown we mentioned that the Big Ten was reportedly preparing for a 20 game conference schedule. It now appears that 20 games is going to happen.
As reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports, multiple sources have said that the head coaches in the Big Ten have voted in favor of a 20-game conference schedule. The move should begin as soon as the 2018-19 season.
The Big Ten wouldn’t be the only conference to make the move, with the ACC set to increase their schedule to 20 games in 2019-20. It’ll be interesting to see if the Big Ten officially announces the decision this week with the conference’s media day set for Thursday.
One of the questions arising with the move is when will teams play the additional two games. This season’s conference schedule is a bit unusual, with each team playing two games early in December. Of course that happened because the Big Ten is holding their conference tournament at Madison Square Garden and will need to hold the event a week early due to the arena’s availability.
That of course could set the foundation for the two additional games. While the Big Ten Tournament is a week early this year, the next several years will alternate between Chicago and Indianapolis. With the tournament returning to it’s old stomping grounds, the conference won’t have to bump up the Big Ten Tournament the next few seasons and can fit in 18 games in it’s normal time period.
That means there’s a possibility the early December two-game run could be how the Big Ten fits in the two additional games. The only other alternative would be to bump up conference play to sometime around fall exams and the holidays, something I doubt teams would be on board with.
Increasing to 20 games would also make things a bit more balanced when it comes to the scheduling. With 18 games there are five double plays and eight single plays, leading to some uneven schedules when you compare teams. With a 20 game schedule, there would be seven double plays and six single plays, potentially making things a bit more fair. It’d also help alleviate situations where rivals play only once in a season.
While it’s still not technically official, everything is pointing to a 20 game move and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it announced by the conference in the near future.