NEW YORK – In a long-expected move, the Big Ten will expand to 20 conference games for men’s basketball beginning with the 2018-19 season. 

The news came shortly before the conference’s media day got underway at Madison Square Garden, where commissioner Jim Delany was the first scheduled speaker of the morning.

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“We looked at the place of basketball not only in the Big Ten but national and came to a conclusion … that we needed to control the number of quality games,” Delany said. “We could add quality games in basketball. We’re also conscious of the fact that college football has grown tremendously. Part of that has been increasing the number of quality games, going from eight to nine, the college football playoff, and some control over playing games against teams with fewer scholarships and relationships.” 

Under the new alignment, teams will play seven opponents twice and six teams once – three home and three away – during the regular season. In-state rivalries between Michigan and Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana and Northwestern and Illinois, are protected and will take place twice annually. Other teams will have a regional component to their schedule, adding a rival based on proximity so that during a six-year cycle they will play 10 such games.  

The Big Ten will play a couple of conference games in December, Delany confirmed, to help spread out the schedule. 

Earlier this month, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann discussed the potential change when looking ahead to scheduling marquee non-conference games. In short, the move could make doing so more difficult and less desirable for Big Ten teams. 

“You can’t play 30 high-major games,” Holtmann said. “That’s not fair to your team. It’s a puzzle we’re trying to put together here based on what I’d like to do and what is reality. The biggest thing is, can we have a couple games in the non-conference that people really find attracting in those November and December months, and can at least one of them, maybe two of them, be at home?” 

The move will come one year before the ACC also makes the switch to 20 conference games. 

The men currently play 18 league games and the women currently play 16.

The Big Ten women’s basketball schedule will not increase to 20 games.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy