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Big Ten releases hoop schedules

Expansion adds day to tourney; women play 18 games

The 2014-15 Big Ten men’s basketball season has much to offer, and for both Indiana and Purdue, creating a rebirth is the key.

The Hoosiers return Yogi Ferrell to see if he can rally them back from mediocrity. The Boilermakers’ A.J. Hammons will try to grow out of his moody ways and help the program find its way.

The league – now at 14 teams with Maryland and Rutgers – released its conference schedule, featuring 18 games per team, on Thursday night during a special on the Big Ten Network.

The matchups have been known for months, including home and away opponents.

But the public finally found out which dates the games will be played.

Though the Big Ten did not announce tip times and television information, it did reveal a change to the conference tournament.

With expansion, two opening-round games will take place on March 11, a Wednesday, pushing the event to five days for the first time.

Hoosiers analysis

The Hoosiers face a rough start to Big Ten play with only three home games through Jan. 30. They open on New Year’s Eve at Nebraska and five days later visit Michigan State.

However, Indiana’s final four road games are spread out from Jan. 29 until the end of the conference’s regular season March 8.

The last three away dates – Maryland on Feb. 11, Rutgers on Feb. 22 and Northwestern on Feb. 25 – are also the least intimidating.

The Hoosiers have a five-day break (their longest of the conference slate) before a pair of home games in March, a nice rest entering the sport’s most important month.

Indiana’s usual home-and-home set with rival Purdue, back after the schools had only one meeting last season, begins Jan. 28, with the Hoosiers traveling to Mackey Arena. Indiana will then play host to Purdue at Assembly Hall on Feb. 19.

Besides Purdue, the other schools the Hoosiers face twice this season are Maryland, Rutgers, Ohio State and Michigan State. Only for the Buckeyes (Jan. 10 in Bloomington, Jan. 25 at Columbus) is there less than three weeks between meetings.

Ideally for out-of-town fans, when the Hoosiers are home, it’s quite often on a weekend.

They play at Assembly Hall on three Saturdays, two Sundays, two Thursdays and two Tuesdays.

Since the Hoosiers have lost 12 straight at the Kohl Center, circle Feb. 3 on the calendar, when they again travel to Wisconsin.

Boilers analysis

If Purdue snaps its two-year streak of missing the NCAA tournament, it will likely do so because it took care of business on the road. The Boilermakers play at Wisconsin and at Indiana, and at both Ohio State and Michigan State during a brutal four-day stretch in March.

It’s madness come early for coach Matt Painter and Company.

Last season, Purdue won just a single conference road game.

The conference season opens at home with a New Year’s Eve date with Minnesota.

Purdue avoids road trips to Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Big Ten newcomer Maryland.

The Terrapins make their first trip to Purdue as a conference member Jan. 10, while the Boilermakers travel to the other first-year school Rutgers on Feb. 12. The Scarlet Knights play at Purdue on Feb. 26.

The middle of the conference road slate is packed with mid- to-low-tier teams: Penn State, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota and Rutgers. They’re games that determine whether a team is on the right – or wrong – side of the NCAA tournament bubble.

The home slate includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio State. The Fighting Illini comes to Mackey Arena on the final weekend of the regular season.

Purdue plays Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota and Rutgers at home and on the road. Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin do not play at Purdue during the 2013-14 season.

The Boilermakers and Hoosiers played only once last season, with Purdue throttling IU 82-64 at Mackey.

Women’s schedules

For the first time in four years, the Big Ten women’s basketball teams will play an 18-game schedule.

IU coach Teri Moren’s Big Ten coaching career will begin against another new kid on the block – Rutgers.

Indiana also ends its regular season against Rutgers, on March 1 in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Four of the Hoosiers’ first five conference games are at Assembly Hall. Then comes a 10-day stretch with four games, three on the road. Indiana finishes the regular season with four of five games on the road.

Indiana and Purdue play in West Lafayette on Jan. 4 – the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten road game – and in Bloomington on Feb. 2.

Purdue begins conference play on the road at Illinois on Dec. 28 and returns home for a New Year’s Day game against Minnesota.

The Boilermakers host defending conference co-champion Michigan State in the regular-season finale. It’s the only meeting between Purdue and Michigan State.

cgoff@jg.net

krowland@jg.net

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