The Big Ten will play its men’s basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden in 2018, according to Sports Illustrated. A formal announcement is planned for Tuesday.
Madison Square Garden still will host the Big East tournament that year. The Big Ten tournament will be held the week before, with the title game coming the Sunday before Selection Sunday.
The move is part of an initiative by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to brand the conference in East Coast markets. The 2017 conference tournament will be at the Verizon Center in Washington. By 2018, conference newcomers Rutgers and Maryland will have played in the tournament in their home markets.
Rotating the event among the conference’s big markets figures to affect recruiting. Having a presence on the East Coast might motivate teams to recruit in the region more, and the conference might become an easier sell to recruits playing in the talent-rich New York market.
There are drawbacks, though. Ending a week early makes for an unconventional break in the schedule. Big teams that are selected for the NCAA tournament will have an extended layoff.
The Big Ten always has ended its tournament on Selection Sunday. NCAA tournament first-round games are that Tuesday and Wednesday, with the second round beginning Thursday. Ending a week earlier in 2018 will give teams more than a week off.
Typically, the longest layoff on the Big Ten schedule occurs during final exams and generally lasts a week.