The Big Ten descended on Madison Square Garden for its 2017 media day. The annual Big Ten Men’s Basketball Media Day generated the perfect hype for what will be a great season.
The Big Ten Tournament is taking place at the Garden from February 28th to March 4th, so it’s a natural fit to hold media day there as well. One of the biggest announcements at the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Media Day is the decision for the league to move from an 18- to a 20-game conference schedule beginning with the 2018-19 season.
— Big Ten Men’s Hoops (@B1GMBBall) October 20, 2017
“We looked at the place of basketball, not only in the Big Ten but nationally, and really came to a conclusion that we needed to control the number of quality games,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said in a ballroom at Madison Square Garden. “We felt we could add quality games in basketball. We felt we could spread out the games a bit, and therefore there would be a couple games in early December we thought we could experiment over time.”
Iowa seemed excited about the day:
— Big Ten Men’s Hoops (@B1GMBBall) October 21, 2017
Minnesota’s Richard Pitino Didn’t Duck When Asked About His Father
The first five questions Richard Pitino answered were about the promising season ahead in Minneapolis — with four starters returning from a team that went 24-10 and made the NCAA tournament last season, the Gophers are legitimate Big Ten contenders — but he couldn’t escape the inevitable probing of his reaction and emotions.
His father, Rick Pitino is currently under investigation for a recruiting scandal.
“It’s been really hard,” he said. “You just want for him, more than anything . . . you see your dad, you want him to be happy. You want him to be healthy.”
Coach Izzo Also Commented On The Probe
When asked about the FBI probe into cheating and corruption in college basketball recruiting, Tom Izzo invoked what he called the ’10 percent rule’ passed on to him by former Spartans coach Jud Heathcote.
“There’s going to be 10 percent problems in every profession, whether it be coaching, whether it be in business, whether it be writers; I guess you could go to policemen to priests nowadays too,” Izzo said. “So I wouldn’t paint the brush over college basketball or football or athletics.”
The Coaches are Concerned About the Big Ten Tournament Format, and Rightly So.
Having the Madison Square Garden as the tournament venue meant playing the tourney a week early, because the Big East has it reserved for championship week.
None of the coaches know how having 7-10 days off before the NCAA Tournament will affect preparation for The Big Dance. At the podium Thursday, coaches gritted their teeth and claimed to have embraced it. Their real view may have been summarized best by Maryland’s Mark Turgeon.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “Ask me in March. I might have a different answer.”
Rutgers Could Be In Store For a Long Season
Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell spoke at Big Ten Men’s Basketball Media Day. Pikiell said he shared some of this memories at Madison Square Garden with his players. He views the Big Ten as the best league in the country and is excited all 14 teams will be coming to New York for the Big Ten Tournament this season.
He’s cautiously optimistic for the outcome of the season. The defensive was “very average most of the year,” Pikiell said, and defensive rebounding really hurt Rutgers a season ago. He’s emphasized those areas in the preseason and said practices have improved overall.
“We need to recruit some tremendous size to compete,” he added.
On the 20-game schedule, Pikiell is excited to have two more competitive games. He said what was once a top-50 schedule annually for Rutgers could turn into a top-30 one.
The New 20 Game Format Might Hurt Rutgers
The expansion good for TV, obviously, and for the powerhouses — more built-in competition and buzz for the biggest rivalries, but as Pikiell tries to build Rutgers’ confidence through selective scheduling, his task gets that much harder. He said at the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Media Day that he was concerned.
“I mean, banging heads for 20 games against some of the best coaches and players, just makes it difficult,” Pikiell said. “But we’ve added two more nationally televised games and two more opportunities (to see) teams home and away, and so I’m excited about that.”
Who knows what all this means in the long run, but for fans, it means more amazing conference action.