Ivey: The Big Ten tournament shouldn’t be in NYC
Michael Ivey | Wednesday, February 28, 2018
College basketball has been in the headlines a lot recently for all of the wrong reasons. The ongoing FBI investigation and revelations about many of the game’s top programs has cast an enormous shadow over the current season, and many feel it is only going to get worse.
I have been following the scandal closely the last few weeks, and perhaps it is because of this massive amount of news that I only recently found out a very less important but still noteworthy disturbance in college basketball: the dates and location of the 2018 Big Ten tournament.
The Big Ten conference tournament will begin this Wednesday and conclude this upcoming Sunday and will take place at historic Madison Square Garden in New York City. That might not seem very unusual, but it is for the Big Ten and their fans.
This year’s tournament will take place a week earlier than it usually does. The second weekend of March is usually reserved for the large conference tournaments: the Big Ten, Big East, ACC, Pac 12, SEC and Big 12. However, because of the Big Ten’s desire to hold their tournament at Madison Square Garden, along with the fact that the Big East will use the Garden for their conference tournament next weekend, the Big Ten decided to compress their regular season schedule in order to hold their postseason tournament a week earlier than usual.
So while all the other premier basketball conferences decide their champion next weekend, the Big Ten tournament will serve as the appetizer this weekend.
I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t feel right.
When I think of the Big Ten tournament, I think of the last weekend before the NCAA Tournament bracket is released. I think of the United Center in Chicago or Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the two venues the tournament usually takes place at. I think of watching the semifinal round Saturday afternoon and then watching the championship game at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The game usually serves as the last game before the Selection Show on CBS, a national stage the Big Ten has all to itself.
This year, however, the Big Ten will have to share their stage with the Missouri Valley conference’s postseason tournament. Nothing against “Arch Madness,” but it still just doesn’t feel right.
Madison Square Garden is an excellent arena, considered one of the best places on the planet to watch any sporting event, but it still just doesn’t feel right.
This isn’t the first time the Big Ten tournament is in an untraditional market. Just last year, it took place at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., hardly considered the Midwest. It was notable because the No. 8 seed in the tournament, Michigan, went on a run and won the championship just days after their team’s plane crashed on the way to Washington.
Putting the conference tournament in Washington, D.C. and New York City in back-to-back seasons is the Big Ten’s attempt to make the conference look more inclusive to their two newest teams, Maryland and Rutgers, who both joined the conference four years ago in a move still considered to be controversial.
I do hope that this season’s tournament proves to be a success. I hope the condensed regular season schedule doesn’t have too much of an effect on the 14 teams and that we will still see some entertaining basketball. I’m looking forward to seeing if Purdue and Michigan State can continue their dominance, along with seeing how the surprising Ohio State Buckeyes will fare.
Still, though, it just won’t feel right.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.