The conference slate for the upcoming Big Ten season has been announced, starting off on December 30 with Iowa taking on Ohio State and culminating on March 15 with the conference championship game. This year’s Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament will take place at the United Center in Chicago, where it was last held in 2013. The 2015 tournament also features a new Wednesday to Sunday format in an effort to accommodate the new additions to the conference, Maryland and Rutgers.
Defending Big Ten champs Michigan State welcome conference newcomers Maryland in East Lansing on December 30th and host Michigan on February 1 in a rematch of last year’s conference championship game. Wisconsin follows up last season’s Final Four campaign with a trip to Ann Arbor to face Michigan on January 24th and hosts Michigan State on March 1 in a compelling late season contest. Michigan kicks off their Big Ten season hosting Illinois December 30 and faces Ohio State for the first time on the season in Columbus on January 13.
Adding two new teams to the 18-game conference schedule means fewer games against out of division opponents, but it also means both Maryland and Rutgers get to create their own Big Ten rivalries, and neither school is a stranger to conference rivalries, having played many years in the ACC and Big East, respectively. Wisconsin will have a target on their back after making the Final Four last season, with Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State gunning for them.
Could this be the year Northwestern finally makes the tournament? Is Nebraska poised for a breakout season? All there is to do now is look to the schedule.