Big Ten makes smart move in placing tournament in D.C.

A day after announcing the Gavitt Tipoff Games, the Big Ten continued to push it’s presence on the East Coast by announcing that the 2017 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament would be held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. 

“We’re thrilled to announce plans to host the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament in Washington, D.C.,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We have a great amount of respect for basketball in this region of the country and are pleased that we were able to place this tournament at the Verizon Center at this first possible opportunity in March 2017.”

Maryland, whose campus is in the D.C. Metro area, and just 9.2 miles from the city, would be the closest conference school.

Some fans in the Midwest have become incensed that the tournament would ever move from its annual rotation between Chicago and Indianapolis. While, the tournament may not be centrally located geographically to the majority of schools, let’s get one thing straight — this is about building the Big Ten brand and making everyone of the schools feel a part of the league.

Like it or not, the Big Ten isn’t just a Midwest-based conference anymore, and in the new era of the conference it’s time to get on board or risk being left off the boat all together. Verizon5

This move isn’t just about adding to the coffers of the league either, like some have argued. For some fans here in the Midwest it seems impossible to fathom that fans of a school don’t always live in the state the school is from.

The reality is the East Coast is full of Big Ten alumni, and D.C. happens to be one of the biggest population centers for Big Ten alumni.

Giving D.C. the tournament exposes a city and area with roots in the Big East and ACC to a whole new brand of basketball. Not only that, but D.C. has been completely ignored by the ACC and Big East as hosts for their tournaments. The ACC has hosted it’s annual gathering just once in D.C. proper, doing so in 2005 and won’t be back until the 2016 season as of now.

With Maryland no longer a part of the conference, that 2016 visit doesn’t have much in the way of draw.

But, Andy, what about the almighty tradition? You mean, like the tradition of having no conference tournament until 1998?

I love tradition as much as the other person, but it’s also time to embrace the whole of the Big Ten in today’s college sports landscape. The conference is home to schools in two geographic locations, and that’s not changing anytime soon.

No doubt, the Big Ten will have to take some fans kicking and screaming. But, those are likely the ones who didn’t want Penn State to join the league, or weren’t happy when the Big Ten created the first conference basketball tournament, or weren’t happy to see Nebraska added to the fold and a football championship game added to the mix.

Yet, guess what? Every move made by Jim Delany in the past twenty-plus years has benefited the conference we all love. The Big Ten isn’t the richest conference in the country, the most attended basketball conference and conference tournament in the country or the most watched basketball league in the country by accident.

Call me crazy, but I’ll trust the conference that has become the goliath of college sports to do the right thing for all fans — NOT JUST A SEGMENT OF FANS.

While it may seem different for fans rooted in the Midwest, for those that live on the East Coast, this event is a welcome sight. There’s no reason to think this event, in this location, won’t be a giant success — both at the box office and in helping to make the new schools feel more like partners and less

That was the mistake made when the Big Ten added Penn State, and in recent years there were a lot of rumblings that Penn State was not happy with how the rest of the conference perceived its membership.

Moving the tournament once every few years to the East Coast won’t hurt anyone, and dare we say it could make the most popular basketball conference even more popular in the future? Oh, for shame….

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college football for nearly half a decade. He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com