Expansion of Big Ten is bad for basketball

NCAA FOOTBALL: APR 25 Penn State Blue White Spring Game

Penn State's Joe Paterno (right) would like the Big Ten to expand to add an Eastern team such as Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Rutgers. He wants to do that because it would help the football programs. Adding a 12th team to the Big Ten would allow the conference to host a football championship game. It would also continue to unbalance the basketball schedule.

Putting aside the fact that it would make no sense for the Panthers or Orange to leave the Big East for the Big Ten, what about the fact that there are obvious scheduling problems with a 12-team football or basketball league?
Northwestern saw the harsh reality of the unbalanced schedule last season when it got just one shot - in Happy Valley - at the Nittany Lions during basketball season. The Wildcats never got a chance to avenge their four-point road loss.

Since there are 18 home games during the Big Ten conference basketball schedule, it is impossible to play every school twice. Teams play eight home-and-homes and one game against two other opponents. Northwestern suffered difficult losses in both of its single games. The defeats at Penn State and at home against Illinois were very close. It is conceivable that given a second chance the Wildcats might have secured marquee victories against conference opponents.

During the 2008-09 season nobody benefited or was hurt drastically by the unbalanced schedule. Northwestern played a mediocre Big Ten schedule. According to opponents conference winning percentage, Indiana played the toughest basketball schedule in the Big Ten. It's opponents had a .543 winning percentage in conference. (This is partly because the 1-17 Hoosiers couldn't play themselves.) 
The relative winners of the Big Ten schedule lottery last season were the Wisconsin Badgers. They played Michigan State and Ohio State once apiece. Still, the winning percentage of Wisconsin's conference opponents was not much worse than Indiana's at .472. 
Playing an easier schedule can also be a detriment. What if a team needed one more marquee win to get them into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid? If they had Indiana on the schedule twice instead of Michigan State or Purdue they'd be out of luck. 
Expansion of the Big Ten would just continue to further dilute basketball schedules. Adding a 12th team would create a situation where there were seven home-and-homes and four single games. Basketball teams would see one-third of the Big Ten just once. While it might make sense for football, expansion certainly doesn't make sense for basketball.

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