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Major changes are coming to the Big Ten basketball tournament

Not everyone is guaranteed an invite.

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Big Ten basketball
© Mark Emmert/Des Moines Register, Des Moines Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The new Big Ten basketball tournament could see some major changes as some teams might not make the field.

With the four new Pac-12 schools (USC, UCLA, Washington, and Oregon) set to join the Big Ten this fall, that means changes are coming to the Big Ten’s scheduling format. Football has already been decided, but no news has come out regarding the Big Ten basketball schedules.

However, Jon Rothstein with CBS Sports is reporting that changes are coming to the Big Ten basketball tournament next year.

Not every team will participate

Since the start of the Big Ten tournament, every team has qualified for the event. Regardless of how poorly they played in the regular season, each team still got their shot in this tournament. I always loved this about conference tournaments because it gives those bad teams a chance to win the Big Ten tournament and automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.

With the addition of the four new schools, however, that won’t be the case anymore. Rothstein is reporting that beginning in 2025, the Big Ten will only let the top 15 schools in the tournament, leaving the bottom three teams at home. How will this impact the format of the tournament?

What will the bracket look like?

Currently, the top four teams get a double bye, and seeds 5-10 get a single bye. Rothstein didn’t elaborate on what the new format will be, but I think it’s pretty simple. The one seed will get the only bye, and the other 14 teams will play in seven first-round games. Those seven winners will join the one seed in the quarterfinals where the bracket will continue normally.

Another option is to still have the top-four seeds get a double bye with seeds 5-9 getting a single bye. This would create three first-round matchups instead of two like there is today. This is probably the most likely bracket setup as it’s almost identical to what we have today.

I’m not sure how I feel about this change initially. It’s unlikely those bottom three teams would ever win the tournament anyway, but we’re eliminating any chance of it happening. However, it does increase the importance of the regular season and could make for some exciting late-season matchups with the teams at the bottom of the Big Ten basketball standings.

This change also likely has no impact on Michigan State. The chances the Spartans ever finish in the bottom three of the conference are low, so MSU is not in any real danger of missing the Big Ten tournament.

No changes coming to the regular season

Also included in Rothstein’s report is that the Big Ten regular season will stay at 20 games. This means each team will only play three opponents twice during the regular season. I hope it’s done similarly to football where they give the rivalry games multiple matchups each season. So games like MSU-Michigan, Indiana-Purdue, USC-UCLA, and Washington-Oregon can happen twice each year.

Whether these changes are good or bad for the conference I’m not sure. I think keeping the regular season at 20 games is the right call, but keeping the three bottom teams out of the regular season doesn’t sit well with me.

Changes are coming to the Big Ten, and regardless of how we feel it’s still a very exciting time.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.

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