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Report: Big Ten to realign divisions by geography beginning in 2014

The Big Ten will be divided into East and West divisions beginning in the 2014 season, according to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy and Adam Rittenberg.

Teams will be assigned to the divisions based on geography, with Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin in the proposed Big Ten West and Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers in the proposed Big Ten East.

Maryland and Rutgers are set to join the league in 2014.

The alignment will replace the current setup of the Legends and Leaders divisions, which were created in 2011 based primarily on competitive balance.

The conference's presidents and chancellors are expected to vote on the matter next week, when they will likely approve a change to a nine-game conference schedule beginning in the 2016 season.

From the ESPN.com report:

With the new division format, rivals Indiana and Purdue will be the only protected game between teams from the East and West divisions, ESPN.com reported last month.

The Big Ten wants to create as much flexibility as possible with its league schedules.

A 10-game conference schedule, once considered by the league, is no longer a possibility because of the necessity of teams needing seven home games a year, a source said.

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