I was on the road for much of Tuesday, so the window has probably closed for a news hit on the 2017 Big Ten tournament being hosted in Washington D.C. Conference commissioner Jim Delany made the announcement from the Verizon Center, home of the NBA's Washington Wizards, and in a release that you can read here.
The vitals: the 2017 men's basketball tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. Games -- including 14 teams now with Maryland and Rutgers in the fold -- will begin Wed., March 8, and run through Sun., March 12. As previously scheduled, the 2015 and 2016 tournaments will be held at Chicago's United Center and Indianapolis' Banker's Life Fieldhouse, respectively.
The reaction has been largely foreseeable: this is the Big Ten continuing to expand its "footprint" out east, and while that's not particularly surprising, it still feels odd. After all, for a conference so proud of its tradition (lest we forget about "Legends and Leaders"), fans across the country have largely considered the Big Ten the "heartland" conference or something like that. But business-wise, this obviously makes sense. Wider coverage area, more eyeballs, more dollars.
By now, that doesn't require much more explanation. As evidenced by this being the Big Ten's second "major" announcement in as many days, the conference isn't looking back from its regional expansion. It recently opened a satellite office in New York, and it's widely known that the basketball tournament will almost assuredly be held at New York's Madison Square Garden and/or Brooklyn's Barclays Center in the short-term future, possibly before the end of the decade. Regardless, the tourney will rotate between Indianapolis, Chicago and wherever else the conference has its eyes on. Even if this is a "worst-case scenario" for you, the postseason tournament for arguably the country's best basketball conference will now rotate between three top-10 TV markets and one in the top 25. Perhaps I'm overestimating the value that holds to fans, but wouldn't you love to see the national Wisconsin basketball narrative move fully beyond the "Bo Ryan basketball is slow, efficient, but hey, WOW, these guys are actually good!"?
Anyway, that's just my unsolicited opinion. Land-Grant Holy Land's Luke Zimmermann has a nice take on this, which he terms a "life goes on" situation. I agree, and I think many fans will eventually share this perspective if they don't already.
More than anything, contrary to the "Battleship" or "Risk" metaphors en vogue on social media, this is a move somewhere along the lines of a game of "Civilization". When you aim to expand your global presence, you look towards a luxury you don't have. But expansion like that is often few and far between. When you don't get perhaps the top lines of luxury, you target the next best thing.
Again, give Luke's complete thoughts a full read through if you're interested. Here, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the poll and comments below.