Even though everyone and their mother is gearing up for the kickoff of the football season, the Big Ten this past week released their conference matchups. The Wisconsin Badgers have some marquee games that every fan should have circled on their calendar. But what fans may or may not know, with the addition of two new teams in Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten Tournament will now have a new look and new feel once March rolls around.
Because the conference has expanded to 14 teams, the Big Ten Tournament will now go from a four-day event to five days. The bottom four teams in the conference will kick off the tournament that Wednesday (which will be March 11 in 2015), with the #11 seed going up against the #14 seed and the #12 seed facing the #13 seed. Winners of those two games will face the 6th and 5th seeded teams, respectively.
Of course the No. 1, 2, 3 and 4th seeded teams will all receive a two-game bye and will not play until the quarterfinals of the tournament on that Friday (March 13, 2015). The semifinals will still be that Saturday (March 14, 2015) and the Big Ten Tournament championship game, as the norm, will conclude Sunday (March 15, 2015) right before the selection show.
If one of the bottom tier teams in the conference want to make the NCAA Tournament, they will now have to win five games in a row to play their way in. Although rare, it is not an impossible feat and something I wouldn’t be all too surprised to see happen if it does.
The 2015 Big Ten Tournament will take place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Couldn’t think of a better place to kick off the newly expanded conference tournament than sweet home Chicago.