‘Wasn’t healthy’: Big Ten won’t repeat condensed schedule

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Moritz Wagner and the Michigan Wolverines head to New York next week for the Big Ten tournament.

It won’t happen again.

That’s what Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told The Chicago Tribune on Friday about the conference’s demanding condensed regular-season schedule that put teams through the meat grinder this season.

Due to the Big Ten tournament taking place a week earlier so it could be played at Madison Square Garden in New York, teams had to endure schedule stretches with short turnarounds and minimal game prep.

Michigan had a span from December to January where it played eight games in 23 days, and Michigan State played five games during a 13-day span in late January.

“I appreciate the sacrifices the teams made, the impact it had on our students,” Delany told the Tribune. “Wasn’t good. Wasn’t healthy. I thought starting early was OK, but if you look at our schedules (through the years), we’ve been able to give everybody two-day prep in 99 percent of the cases.

“We won’t do it again this way, and I take responsibility for asking the coaches.”

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While several Big Ten coaches were irked by the compressed conference slate this season, Michigan coach John Beilein said his team was able to adapt to it well.

“The December schedule, the February schedule, as it turned out I think it worked out all right that when we had all those games compressed in January it gave us time to know who we were,” Beilein said. “We didn't get a lot of extra days, but we got enough extra days to sort of work on some things we had to get better at and I think it's helped us have a more productive February.”

The other issue with the conference tournament being moved up a week earlier than normal is Big Ten teams who make the NCAA Tournament could be waiting 10-14 days before playing their first-round game. Whether that proves to be an advantage or disadvantage remains to be seen.

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Delany said moving forward, he expects the Big Ten tournament to be held in the Midwest in Chicago and Indianapolis “80 percent” of the time and out East in Washington D.C., Philadelphia or New York “probably 20 percent.”

Delany added he’s open to a possible return to Madison Square Garden if it could happen “on a regular week,” and has no regrets about moving the tournament to New York this year.

The Big East tournament takes place at MSG during the week before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

“I don’t look backward,” he said. “I’m not overlooking the objective, which is to give the players and the teams and our fans there a chance to see the Big Ten in the Big Apple.”

Starting next season, the Big Ten tournament will rotate between Chicago and Indianapolis over the next four years, with the United Center hosting the event in 2019 and 2021 and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2020 and 2022.