When the Big 10 basketball schedules were released earlier this year, Michigan and Michigan State fans alike were disappointed to see the rivals playing just one time during the 2017-18 season.
But starting next year, the two teams are set to play each other twice per season.
According to the Big 10 Conference, the conference’s Administrators Council met last week and approved changes to the format of men’s and women’s basketball schedules starting next year.
The men’s conference schedule increases to 20 games (seven opponents twice, six opponents once) while the women’s increases to 18 (five opponents twice, eight opponents once). For the teams the men play once, three of those will be on the road while three are at home; the same goes for the women but, because math, they have four away and four home.
The most significant part of the changes guarantees the three in-state rivals — Michigan/Michigan State, Indiana/Purdue and Illinois/Northwestern — play twice per season.
It’s weird how this had to be brought up in front of the Big 10 Administrators Council and that they couldn’t play twice per year already, but at least something got done. Michigan/Michigan State is arguably the best rivalry in the conference, so having this approved is a great thing for college basketball fans throughout the state.
Partly because of the in-state rivalry change, during this six-year cycle in-state rivals will play 12 times, regional opponents will play 10 times and all other teams will play nine times.
The Big 10 didn’t give an exact definition for “regional,” but for Michigan we can assume regional opponents include teams like Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue and Indiana, while non-regional would include Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska and Iowa. I’m not sure where they would put Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but I guess we will find out soon enough.
Michigan and Michigan State’s lone matchup this season falls on Jan. 13 in East Lansing.