The assumption was that divisions would only be for football in the Big Ten, but that didn't stop some from wondering out loud about a possible division setup for basketball as well. That won't be happening, at least according to a report by The Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Instead expect things to stay as they are moving forward. No divisions and 18 games.
Here's what Delany had to say on the subject to The Gazette:
“There’s no appetite for regional divisions in basketball,” Delany said. “I think 18 games is about right. I thought this year, as enjoyable as the season was, as competitive it was and as deep as it was, I thought players were really tired at the end of the year. I thought they got some of their legs back but they played so hard and each game was a physical and an emotional challenge and people were tired.”
Delany has a point about keeping the games at 18, but with 14 teams in the conference there are some interesting and potentially contentious points to be worked out.
For instance, how about Purdue and Indiana only playing each other once a year, like this upcoming season when they will only meet in West Lafayette?
How does the Big Ten's biggest and best basketball rivalry not get played as a home-and-home every year? It's got to be played twice a year in our minds.
That situation just illustrates how difficult it's going to be to figure out the best way to schedule going forward. With 13 opponents to play, you have to assume that you play everyone at least once a season (as is now the case), so that leaves just 5 games to be home-and-home on a season by season basis.
What do you do with those five games? Do you try to make as many of the regional rivalries play out (ie: Wisconsin vs. Minnesota, Iowa vs. Wisconsin, MSU vs. Michigan, OSU vs. Michigan) or do you try and find a way to balance between rivalries and competitiveness?
It's going to be a tricky balancing act to say the least, especially because money, travel, and not beating up on each other to the extent that the conference can't compete come NCAA tournament time are all being weighed heavily.
To be sure I don't envy the AD's, coaches, school administrators, and Delany who all have to figure this out. One thing is for sure, it would be a shame if they let the greatness of the competition inside the Big Ten die just to satisfy perception in the postseason.