Purdue, Illini, Northwestern Give Mixed Opinions on Early, Congested B1G Schedule


purdue hoops

The B1G schedule is disjointed and disoriented this season, beginning and ending earlier than ever before in modern history. We asked the head coaches and a couple players from the three B1G teams closest to home here (Chicago): #21 Purdue Boilermakers, Illinois Fighting Illini and Northwestern Wildcats.

The schedule is so tightly congested on the calendar that it leaves many of us physically congested, because those involved are so worn down from the workload, with quick turnarounds, all taking place inside the perfect breeding ground for germs during flu season.

illini basketball

There really isn’t much time for game prep on the back end of some of these games, and if you enjoy game preview articles, forget it because those are pretty much extinct when there’s less than 48 hour turnaround time.

B1G play began right on the heels of the ACC/B1G Challenge which is essentially the college hoops equivalent of how Christmas has now eaten Thanksgiving, and “Christmas time” no begins the moment Halloween ends. Why is the B1G cannibalizing itself in a manner similar to the holidays?

It’s the money grab to get the B1G tournament in Madison Square Garden this year. It’s all about the money and tv sets in the New York City market (i.e. THE only reason Rutgers is here in the first place). The B1G’s obsession with trying to conquer the east coast is like the sports version of John Kerry’s infamous, ill-fated hunting photo-opp during his presidential campaign.

Dude, you’re both a.) fishing in the completely wrong pond and b.) you’re only hurting yourself with the loyal base that you already have.

chris collins

To accommodate the move to MSG, the B1G schedule ends a couple weeks early this season, and in order to do that, lots of fixture congestion ahead. Some weeks will have plenty of games stuffed in there like a sausage. Obviously, we all have opinions on this, so I’m now done expressing mine.

Let’s hear from some B1G coaches and players on this topic, starting with Purdue coach Matt Painter:

“I think it’s great, it makes basketball relevant in our league, I think a lot of time it’s like ‘Let’s wait until January, and then basketball season starts.’ We’ve played 15 games, what do you mean basketball season starts? Basketball season started back on November 13th,” Painter said.

“Whether it’s a scrimmage or a game we’ve played West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, Louisville, Maryland and Northwestern that will get you ready. I know our guys like like games more than practice. Players don’t like practice all the time.”

matt painter

“I like it, we obviously had to because of the tournament moving up a week, but I don’t think it’s that big a deal. It does give you guys something to ask though. That’s the only thing it’s done; as that question just keeps getting asked.”

Purdue forward Vince Edwards added: “I just think it’s different, having been here for four years. We’re having fun with it and it’s going good so far, but it kind of wears on your body a little bit. It’s better than practicing for a whole week. we’ll trade practicing for games.”

Dec. 1 marked Illinois’ earliest Big Ten opener in school history, surpassing the Dec. 15, 1964 opener at Wisconsin.

illini basketball

Illini Coach Brad Underwood said:

“I love the December games, I’m a big big fan of taking the opportunity in this window to play games. Moving to 20 (the league schedule every season) it makes sense to play these games now than trying to play them after Christmas when we don’t have students and people on campus.”

“It’s an advantage to a veteran team- there’s no question.”

Northwestern Coach Chris Collins on the early Big Ten games:

“Overall, I think it’s difficult, but I get it. it draws attention to our conference at an early stage. We understand, we do what’s put ahead of you but if I had to do it, I would keep it after the holidays so we could use that non-conference to get us ready for conference play.”

“At least it’s fair for everybody, everyone is going through the same thing.”

Asked if he believes that the early games are an advantage to an older team, he replied:

“It should, but in our case, it’s hurt us because we’ve struggled and we’re trying to find ourselves”

vic law northwestern basketball

Northwestern forward Vic Law: “I don’t know who schedules these games, but I’ve never played two conference games in the middle of my non-conference season. Who would’ve thought I would go from Purdue to Chicago State in a week?”

Law then gave a great soundbite on his team getting a win over the Illini, their arch-rival:

“Illinois kicked our ass two times last year, and it’s Illinois…We needed to win with the expectations we have for ourselves.”

Friday’s game was the lone scheduled match-up this season between Illinois and Northwestern. The Illini and Wildcats are guaranteed to meet twice annually beginning in 2018-19 when the Big Ten schedule expands to 20 games.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

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