B1G10 Sacrifices Tradition for Dollar Signs

Photo+by+Trent+Osborne.
Photo by Trent Osborne.

Photo by Trent Osborne.

Photo by Trent Osborne.

Trent Osborne

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The annual Big Ten Men’s basketball tournament took place over the weekend and while the action was fantastic as always, the tournament was not left without its controversy. The Big Ten has always been a Midwestern conference outside of a few stragglers from the east (Penn State, Maryland, and Rutgers to be specific). Yet that hasn’t stopped the Big Ten from attempting to push into new territories. The 2018 contest, which was won by the Michigan Wolverines for the second consecutive year, was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City for the first time ever, and hopefully in the minds of most, the last time. The host venue for the tournament went back and forth between Chicago’s United Center, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse here in Indianapolis (or Conseco for any of you old heads out there) from the tournament’s inception in 1998, all the way up until last year when the event was held in our nation’s capital.

While this has been praised by Big Ten players and coaches alike, the fans and the media have called out Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany for the giant cash grab this appears to be. Gregg Doyel of the IndyStar was very candid in his opinion of the Big 10 Tourney being held in the big apple: “So he — and let’s be clear here: this is Jim Delany’s fault — agreed to a bastardized Big Ten schedule this year that has seen the league play some conference games in December, the conference tournament at a weird time and then have a layoff of almost two weeks before the NCAA tournament begins. The extended layoff seems damaging to the league’s chances in the NCAA tournament, but the Big Ten didn’t concern itself with that because MONEY!…….. Do what you do best, commissioner: Set your teams up to fail. And count your MONEY”. You can’t help but feel he has a point. The new-look Big Ten schedule (which Delany has already stated they will go back to the regular one next season) has put some major teams in terrible situations. Indiana is a perfect example, as they were forced to play five games in the span of 11 days, a span in which we saw IU on the losing end four times. Not only that, but the only team even remotely close to NYC is Rutgers: the worst team in the entire conference. The next closest school? Maryland, which is almost 200 miles away.

Having the tournament in New York is a move that makes little to no sense outside of Big Ten officials attempting to stuff their pockets. New York City belongs to the Big East. It always has, and it always will. Madison Square Garden might be the “Basketball Mecca”, but the fact of the matter is this: They just don’t care about the Big 10. The early round attendance was abysmal, and it’s not hard to see why. Meanwhile, the Midwest is crazy about the Big Ten. I’ve seen the Big Ten tournament live, and there’s nothing like it. Is it fair to hold the tournament in Indy or Chicago every year? No. That gives Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, and Illinois an unfair advantage. I’d like to see cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, or Cleveland play host, and give the schools in those areas the home-field advantage they’ve never been able to have before. While this year may have been a disappointment crowd-wise, don’t fret too much. The Big 10 Tournament will return to the Midwest in 2019 when it is once again held in the United Center. And for some, that can’t come soon enough.

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