Monday, August 23, 2010
Crean On IU Basketball Prospects, Big Ten Scheduling
Tom Crean enters the Cook Hall conference room looking fit, tanned and primed.
He hasn’t yet seen the current version of the Indiana Hoosiers in action (NCAA rules ban such contact during the offseason), but the words on his t-shirt reflect his mood:
“Impossible Is Nothing.”
Crean talks of will, of scoring points from defense, of being harder to score against and play more physically. This could be the year, after just 16 wins over the previous two seasons, that the Hoosiers come close to his vision for the program.
We’ll get to more of that in the future, but for now let’s focus on an issue that could dramatically affect IU and the Big Ten.
You’ve heard that the conference is considering increasing the football league schedule from eight games to nine in the wake of the addition of Nebraska that gives the Big Ten 12 teams. In fact, it’s likely to happen starting in the 2015 season.
Would basketball coaches like to increase the number of Big Ten games from 18 to 20?
Are you nuts?
“I’m not in favor of it at all,” Crean said. “I would be surprised if there are many coaches who would be based on our meetings. I think the best scenario is 16 (Big Ten) games.”
A couple of years ago the Big Ten went from a 16-game regular season to 18 to make for a fairer conference race. With 11 teams, a full conference home-and-home schedule would be 20 games. The closer you get to that number, the less likely scheduling whims could determine the champion. Some teams might play the top contenders twice, others just once. Some would play the best teams only at home, others only on the road.
Going to 18 games also went with what appeared at the time to be a national trend of all conferences going to 18 games. That would even the playing field when it came to at-large selections to the NCAA Tournament.
“We went to 18 believing that everybody was going to be playing under the same principles,” Crean said. “It hasn’t worked out that way. When you’ve got the power conferences, you can’t have separation like that.”
Separation comes because conference games are usually more difficult than non-conference games. Yes, IU playing Kentucky or Purdue playing West Virginia are very challenging, but a lot of schools schedule mostly easy non-conference games to boost their record and improve their postseason at-large big chances.
“For every school that chooses a major home and home game (such as IU and Kentucky), there’s a school that chooses a guarantee game,” Crean said. “I don’t blame them. A lot of things go into scheduling.”
Here’s what Crean hopes goes into Big Ten scheduling:
“It makes perfect sense for us to go to 16 games. Will it happen? I don’t have a vote, but it would make a lot of sense with expansion.”
IU athletic director Fred Glass said conference officials are focused on football issues and haven’t had time to consider basketball.
They will, of course. Figure a 20-game schedule won’t happen. As far as a reduction to 16 games, that’s a debate for another day.