College Park — Nearly three months after the Big Ten Conference announced that it would start playing a 20-game schedule in men’s basketball starting next season, Maryland’s Mark Turgeon became the first coach to voice his displeasure with the two-game increase.
Fanrag Sports reported earlier in the week that the Big Ten would continue playing two games before Christmas, as it did for the first time this season to accommodate the league tournament being played a week earlier at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
No official announcement by the league has yet to be made.
In 2018-19, the Big Ten would go back to playing its postseason tournament in the week before Selection Sunday for the NCAA tournament.
Currently, teams play five home-and-home series, with the other eight split between four home-only and four road-only opponents. Starting next year, there will be seven home-and-home series, with teams playing the other six once each either at home or on the road.
Asked about the new 20-game format, Turgeon didn’t soft-pedal his disdain.
“I don’t like it. I wanted to stay at 18 games,” Turgeon said. “They know I don’t like it. They’re probably going to say something to me for saying it out loud right now. It’s hard enough, 18 league games is tough, 20 makes it tougher.
“They think it’s going to get one more team in the NCAA tournament every year. If it’s us one year, then I’ll like it. But until then I think it’s really hard on the student-athlete. It’s good for everybody else. It’s good for TV. It’s good for the home crowd, it’s good for the budget. That’s probably why they’re doing it.”
The new format will also try to protect in-state rivalries such as Michigan-Michigan State, Illinois-Northwestern and Indiana-Purdue, as well as the schools without in-state rivalries that are closer in proximity, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The only schools relatively close to Maryland geographically are Penn State and Rutgers, which have been among the league’s weakest programs since the Terps and Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten four years ago.
Turgeon hedged on his displeasure when the 20-game schedule was first announced at Big Ten Media Day in New York in October.
Asked then about how it might affect Maryland, he said: “I think being new to the league, rivalries are going to take time to establish themselves in the area. But Pat [Chambers] is doing a terrific job at Penn State. Steve [Pikiell] is going to do a great job at Rutgers. If those do become our rivals, I guess we'll play more local games. I'm not sure the real breakdown, but got a lot of respect for their programs.”
The new 20-game schedule?
Not so much?