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Big Ten to play 2017 men's basketball tournament in Washington, D.C.

The Baltimore Sun

The Big Ten Conference will announce Tuesday that its 2017 men's basketball tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

A news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the arena.

It will mark the first time since the conference established a postseason tournament nearly two decades ago that the event will be held in a city other than Chicago or Indianapolis.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said that the addition of Maryland and Rutgers beginning July 1 is a sign of the conference planting roots on the East Coast after mostly being in the Midwest throughout its history.

“The important thing for us is that we want to talk about being in two regions in one conference, but we want to live it, too,” Delany said. “It’s good, but it will require hard work to bind the conference together.”

In addition to playing the Big Ten tournament in Washington, Delany points to the fact that the league recently signed a deal to play a bowl game at Yankee Stadium every year, as well as the addition of the Johns Hopkins lacrosse program as an adjunct member.

The Big Ten will also open a New York office this summer, using space owned by a conference member in Washington for a satellite office.

“This is the next major step,” Delany said. “There will be other major steps to be announced over the next couple of months.”

Delany wouldn’t be specific, but he acknowledged that the league also will look to play its men’s basketball tournament in the New York area. The Atlantic Coast Conference in March signed a two-year deal at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., beginning in 2017. The ACC is scheduled to play at the Verizon Center in 2016.

“I think all of us now live in two regions,” Delany said. “My perspective is that it’s one thing to be in two regions, but it's more important to live in two regions. This is the first opportunity we had to demonstrate that in basketball. We get incredible responses [in New York]. You can expect us to try and plant flags and have friends and try to become more relevant in both [New York and Washington].”

Given the number of alumni from Big Ten schools living in Washington, the move to the Verizon Center makes sense.

“It’s a great basketball region, lots of great fans. We’ve got a lot of people living in the East,” Delany said. “Not only do we hope to stimulate and entertain Maryland and Rutgers fans, but also our fans who live in the East. We’ve got nearly six million alums living around the country, and probably a million from D.C. to New York. We’ve got a pretty significant community, and we wanted to get out there ASAP.”

The Big Ten tournament is scheduled for the United Center in Chicago in 2015.

Delany is expected to attend Tuesday’s news conference along with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and athletic director Kevin Anderson.

"We're very excited the Big Ten Conference has selected our nation's capital as the site for the 2017 Big Ten men's basketball tournament," Anderson said in a statement. "This is yet another example of the Big Ten's commitment to our region and provides Maryland fans and all conference teams on the East Coast easier access to enjoy this outstanding event."

The ACC tournament was last held in the Washington area when it was played at the Verizon Center in 2005.

The Big Ten also announced Monday the establishment of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual early-season event consisting of eight games played between the Big Ten and Big East. They're named in honor of Dave Gavitt, who founded the Big East.

A Big Ten spokesman said that agreement is not expected to affect the longstanding Big Ten-ACC challenge.

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