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NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Big news from Rosemont, Ill. today!

Big Ten basketball is adding 20 conference games to its men’s schedule, while women’s teams will play 18 B1G games a regular season. The changes are set to take place during the 2018-19 season.

From the B1G release:

The Big Ten Conference Administrators Council approved a change to the format of future men’s and women’s basketball schedules at its annual meeting last week. Beginning with the 2018-19 season, the men’s basketball schedule will increase to 20 conference games and the women’s basketball schedule will feature 18 conference games.

Under the new men’s format, teams will play seven opponents twice and six teams once (three home, three away) in a given season. The three in-state rivalries – Illinois/Northwestern, Indiana/Purdue and Michigan/Michigan State – will be played twice annually, while the new schedule will also include a regional component to increase the frequency of games among teams in similar areas. Over the course of a six-year cycle (12 playing opportunities), in-state rivals will play each other 12 times, regional opponents will play 10 times, and all other teams will play nine times.

The updated women’s format will feature 18 conference games that will allow teams to play five opponents twice and eight teams once (four home, four away) each season. A similar model that emphasizes in-state rivalries and competition between regional opponents will also be implemented for the new women’s schedule.

More details, including each team’s list of single- and double-play opponents for 2018-19, will be released at a later date.

So there you have it! The states that are home to two institutions just got themselves a protected home-and-home rivalry, which I find to be a great thing for the states of Indiana and Michigan ... and whatever for the sad college sports state of Illinois.

Though some don’t think it’s the best arrangement...

And that aside, there is the argument to be made that this will cut into “fun” preseason games like Iowa-Seton Hall and the like. “Buy” games like Iowa-North Dakota will stay since teams need as many home games as they can get. I don’t think this will have any impact on the B1G-ACC challenge.

So really maybe this isn’t a good thing? I have no personal opinion on the matter, and this is likely something that will need to ripen in order to understand the full effect.

ANYWAY, speculation time on who’s Iowa protected home-and-home opponent will be!

Logistically, the three most obvious choices are Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Obviously we have a much richer (and competitive) history with Minnesota and Wisconsin, so I’d be happy with either of those two.

As a Minnesota native who grew up going to the Barn, I’d love the chance to beat Sentient Sweaty Bag of dirt Richard Pitino twice a year, but that’s just me.

And that’s that.

As a little bonus nugget, the B1G released it’s preseason all-conference team this morning as well:

Justin Jackson, F, Maryland

Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan

MILES BRIDGES, G/F, Michigan State

Nick Ward, F, Michigan State

Amir Coffey, G, Minnesota

Nate Mason, G, Minnesota

Scottie Lindsey, G/F, Northwestern

BRYANT MCINTOSH, G, Northwestern

Vincent Edwards, F, Purdue

ETHAN HAPP, F, Wisconsin

Miles Bridges was selected as the preseason player of the year. I look forward to seeing several Hawkeyes on the list that actually matters at the end of the season.