The Big Ten Conference will play its men’s basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden in 2018, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation. A formal announcement is planned for Tuesday.
Madison Square Garden will still host the Big East Tournament in 2018. The Big Ten Tournament will be held the week prior, with the Big Ten title game coming the Sunday prior to Selection Sunday. (The Big East Tournament will culminate on its traditional date, the Saturday night prior to Selection Sunday).
The move is part of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany’s push to position the conference better in vital East Coast media markets. Rutgers and Maryland are playing their first seasons in the Big Ten this year, and Delany has identified a presence on the I-95 corridor as a key to the league’s future. The announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise; Delany had made clear how much he coveted New York, especially Madison Square Garden, as a showcase to the league.
The presence of the Big Ten Tournament in New York in 2018 will make the city the heartbeat of college basketball for more than a week. The ACC Tournament begins a two-year run at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2017 and '18 seasons. With the Big Ten Tournament running the week before Selection Sunday, and the ACC and Big East Tournaments running simultaneously up to college basketball's selection day, New York will become the sport's hub.
The one potential drawback for the Big Ten is the timing of the tournament. It could create an awkward issue for Big Ten teams, as there will be an 11-day gap between the final Big Ten Tournament game and the start of the NCAA tournament.
The Big Ten Tournament will be held in Chicago in 2015, Indianapolis in 2016 and Washington D.C. in 2017.