Big Ten basketball lacks the schedule intrigue of its football counterpart partly because all league schools play one another at least once during the season. But clearly there are basketball rivalries that rise above the rest, and there are questions as to whether they automatically are played twice each year.
Purdue and Indiana come to mind immediately, followed closely by Michigan-Michigan State. After those two, there are a handful that receive consideration as important but not necessarily vital to the basketball program.
With a 12-team league, each school plays seven schools twice and four schools once. The schedule rotates every two seasons and there are no established home-and-home rivalries.
Last week at the Big Ten spring meetings in Chicago, Purdue Athletics Director Morgan Burke was asked if there was any discussion about changing that rule to include one special rivalry as a home-and-home every year. Burke said, "You bet that’s in the schedule for basketball. That’s changed. When we got into it ... I’m not sure everybody has a natural rivalry. Michigan and Michigan State is a natural rivalry.
"I think we’re (Purdue-Indiana) home-and-away ad infinitum."
Burke then backtracked slightly and told reporters to check with the Big Ten office. The league's answer didn't quite match Burke's recollection.
[polldaddy poll=6250083] "We don’t have protected basketball rivals," said Mark Rudner, the Big Ten's senior associate commissioner for television administration and handles scheduling. "There will come a time when Purdue and Indiana will play only one time.
"Nothing has changed as I’ve been aware of, and I would have been made aware."
Indiana and Purdue last played one time during the 2007-08 and 2008-2009 season. In 2002-03, another year when the schools were scheduled to play only once in the Big Ten, they decided to play a neutral site game at the RCA Dome and drew a crowd of more than 32,000.
Michigan and Michigan State also played just once per season in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Part of the reason permanent rivalries have not been established is after Indiana-Purdue and Michigan-Michigan State, there are plenty of good rivalries but none that scream out as "gotta plays." I'm sure you could look at Wisconsin-Minnesota as a possibility or Illinois' rivalries with either Iowa or Northwestern. But the response would be tepid to force rivalries between, say, Ohio State-Penn State or Iowa-Nebraska. But it's something officials can suggest or implement into the future, Rudner said.
"They may, as directors, choose to change that, but that’s not going to happen this year," Rudner said.
If permanent rivalries were established, here's a guess on how they'd play out. Vote for yours in the above poll and we'll post the results both here and in The Gazette at a later date.
- Indiana-Purdue — Duh. Best rivalry in the Big Ten and top five in the nation.
- Michigan-Michigan State — Now that the Wolverines are contenders, this rivalry will be fierce on the court and for recruits.
- Wisconsin-Minnesota — It's a perfect rivalry between the states in college/pro sports and top fishing spots.
- Ohio State-Penn State — Location, location, location.
- Illinois-Northwestern — I'd prefer Iowa-Illinois, but the instate factor would earn the final nod.
- Iowa-Nebraska — Hardly a rivalry, but the Cornhuskers could use a permanent border foe, and Iowa fans in Council Bluffs/Omaha would stoke the fire a little bit before spring football starts.
— The Big Ten is learning an NFL trick. Which is, come out with news items at dead times of the year to keep your name in the public eye.
So on Monday, the conference announced its conference football games for 2015 and 2016. That's three years and three months from now, but people reacted. For instance:
• Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes the 2013 Ohio State recruiting class that Urban Meyer is putting together right now will go through its time at Ohio State without playing Nebraska during the regular season. At least the Buckeyes who are around for only four seasons.
• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus points out that Wisconsin and Michigan State -- who met in two terrific games last season — won't face each other from 2013 through 2016. They will meet this Oct. 27 in Madison.
• Nebraska has what could be a pretty formidable schedule in 2015. Rich Kaipust of the Omaha World-Herald points out the Huskers play Southern Mississippi and BYU at home and Miami on the road, so that's a better-than-average nonconference collection of opponents (the other is South Alabama). In league play, Nebraska travels to Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin.
• We don't know who will be great, good, and godawful in 2015 and 2016, but Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune knows this: Northwestern won't play Ohio State, Penn State or Wisconsin in either of those regular-seasons.
Plan your weddings accordingly.
— Should my child play football?
It's a question more and more parents are asking as concussions in football become a hotter and hotter topic. This story by Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gets a lot of feedback in this story.
Football isn't the only dangerous organized activity for youths.
Dr. Steve Kroll of Georgia Sports Medicine estimates that he has seen more than 1,000 concussion cases in the past two years. Maybe 20 percent of those involve football. Other sources may surprise you.
"One in particular is cheerleading," he said. "They don't have pads. They don't have helmets. And they actually suffer quite a few concussions."
— I've seen show-stopping shots on NBA playoff telecasts the last two nights. Now, so can you.
First up is Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday in the Clips' swansong, a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Next is Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder in OC's series close-out win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. (The reaction of the gentleman at the scorer's table at the :32 mark of the clip is appropriate and wonderful.)