Earlier this week, reporter Jeff Goodman tweeted out the Secret Scrimmage schedule for the Big Ten:
While we’re at the Big Ten media day, might as well put out the Big Ten secret scrimmage list. pic.twitter.com/reL0EWeb2Q— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) October 2, 2019
There are sixteen total secret scrimmages:
- Oct 19: Maryland vs. Pittsburgh
- Oct 19: Minnesota at Iowa State
- Oct 19: Michigan State vs. Gonzaga (Denver)
- Oct 19: Penn State at West Virginia
- Oct 20: Ohio State at Louisville
- Oct 20: Rutgers vs. Towson
- Oct 20: Indiana vs. Marquette (Banker’s Life)
- Oct 24: Michigan vs. Detroit
- Oct 26: Nebraska at Wichita State
- Oct 26: Rutgers at Yale
- Oct 26: Wisconsin vs. Iowa State (Cedar Rapids)
- Oct 27: Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt (Indianapolis)
- Oct 27: Penn State vs Delaware
- Oct 27: Illinois at South Carolina
- Oct 27: Purdue vs. Providence (Indianapolis)
- Oct 27: Iowa vs. Illinois State
For those of you who are wondering why these scrimmages are “secret” if national reporters are tweeting about them, it’s because NCAA rules allow two different types of preseason games. Teams can either play an exhibition game against a non-Division-I opponent, or they can schedule a D-I opponent, but if they schedule a D-I opponent, there can’t be any fans or media present. Thus, “secret.”
Everyone gets a total of two preseason games; you can schedule two non-D-I games, two secret scrimmages, or one of each.
Here is a grab-bag of thoughts as I look at this list.
- Coaches have three considerations when they book a secret scrimmage. One, can they schedule someone close by? Two, can they schedule someone who will help their team work on its weaknesses? Three, can they schedule a coaching buddy?
- Every game on this list falls into one of those three categories. If a game looks odd, the coaches are probably friends. Brad Underwood and Illinois are playing South Carolina because Underwood used to coach under South Carolina coach Frank Martin at Kansas State. That Purdue has scheduled Providence shows how much Matt Painter respects Ed Cooley, who has gained a lot of national attention recently as a damn good coach, and who was strongly considered by Michigan before they hired Juwan Howard.
- Speaking of Juwan Howard, the Michigan coach must still be getting his sea legs. Most people expect the Wolverines to be an NCAA Tournament team, but Detroit is maybe the worst opponent on the list. But they’re geographically close, and (former IU coach) Mike Davis is well-liked among his peers.
- Interesting that Rutgers and Penn State scheduled two secret scrimmages. That means zero exhibition games. Of course, given the kind of attendance Penn State and Rutgers get, playing in front of zero fans won’t be that much different than playing in front of an exhibition home crowd.
- Indiana is smart. Why would you play a game in Banker’s Life if there aren’t going to be any fans there? To get your guys some experience on the floor where this season’s Big Ten Tournament is going to be held.
- Love that Ohio State is going to Louisville. Chris Holtmann wants to challenge his young team. If there’s one game on this list that I’d promote to a regular-season matchup, this one would be my choice.
- Both Minnesota and Wisconsin play Iowa State. It’ll be interesting to see which opponent Cyclones fans and coaches say was tougher. (While fans can’t attend the games, rumors of how the team played will leak out almost immediately.)
- Rutgers going to Yale is embarrassing.
- The only game that doesn’t fit nicely into one of my three categories above is Northwestern/Vanderbilt. But these schools are pretty much mirror images of each other—private schools in a conference with massive state schools, both rebuilding after bottoming out, and both with a student population full of rich nerds.
- Most importantly, we are just a little more than two weeks from the return of Big Ten basketball, even if the games are a secret. After a long offseason, we basketball junkies are finally going to get to inject some college hoops into our veins and brains. I can’t wait.