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Dan Murphy, ESPN Staff Writer 29d

Big Ten to play 20-game conference schedule next season

Men's College Basketball, Illinois Fighting Illini, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Indiana Hoosiers, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Ohio State Buckeyes, Maryland Terrapins, Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The Big Ten announced plans Thursday to play a 20-game conference schedule for men's basketball, starting next season. The expanded calendar will put a premium on creating more matchups between in-state and regional rivals.

The league has been considering a move from 18 to 20 games for the past several months. Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters in New York for Big Ten media day on Thursday morning that the new schedule should create more excitement for fans.

"We think, in general, people respond more to the conference games than the nonconference [games]," he said. "... We just thought playing against each other more was good for the Big Ten and good for college basketball generally."

The new format will make sure that the Michigan-Michigan State, Illinois-Northwestern and Indiana-Purdue rivalry games will be played twice each season. A news release indicated that the new schedule would also create more games between teams in similar geographic regions.

During a six-year scheduling cycle, in-state opponents will play each other 12 times, regional opponents will play 10 times and all other matchups will happen nine times.

The league jumped from 16 conference games to 18 during the 2007-08 season and is not alone among the Power 5 conferences in expanding again. The ACC announced more than a year ago that it plans to go to a 20-game slate, starting with the 2019-20 season.

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