Starting next season, the bottom three teams in the Big Ten standings won’t be invited to the men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments as conference realignment ramps up and forces leagues to alter their postseason protocols. While the Big Ten is growing from 14 to 18 members, its conference tournament will expand by only slot to 15 teams, according to Tuesday’s announcement from the league.
The Big Ten Tournament will remain a five-day event in which the top four seeds receive a double-bye. Teams seeded Nos. 5-9 will receive a single bye, while teams seeded Nos. 10-15 will play in the tournament’s preliminary rounds. The bracket should shape up similarly to how the ACC bracket has looked with 15 teams since the 2013-14 season.
Other conferences are expected to follow suit in the coming months with announcements over how their new additions will impact the postseason structure. Under existing protocols for the top six conferences in college basketball, every team makes their conference tournament. However, the Big Ten’s move shows that will change as the sport moves toward a new era amid the Pac-12’s disintegration.
The Big Ten is adding Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington from the Pac-12. The SEC is adding Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12. The Big 12 is adding Arizona, Arizona State Colorado and Utah from the Pac-12. Lastly, the ACC is adding Cal and Stanford from the Pac-12 along with SMU from the ACC.
The Big Ten also announced the number of conference games played by each school will remain the same with men’s teams playing 20 conference games and women’s teams playing 18 conference games