1. The Big Ten wants to make November and December matter more to college hoops fans by playing better nonconference games and having an earlier start to conference play with a new 20-game league schedule. Gophers coach Richard Pitino said: “I think it’s good for everybody … For us, to be able to get quality opponents in your building, it’s important to us early because our fan base loves it. More importantly, though, last year from studying what the NCAA tournament was looking at, they’re looking at how many good wins you have.”
2. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany points to an “unsettling, negative narrative” portrayed after widespread accusations of cheating revealed the past two weeks during the federal trial on corruption in college hoops recruiting. Delany said: “These are statements made under oath as a result of the FBI wiretaps of hundreds of hours, if not more, thousands of conversations … There’s no doubt that they are storm clouds of a significant magnitude.”
3. Big Ten coaches are happy to be back in the Midwest for the Big Ten tournament — in Chicago this season and 2021 and in Indianapolis in 2020 and 2022. The league shifted to New York City and Madison Square Garden last season by moving up the end of the regular season and condensing the league schedule.
4. Conference stars such as Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Carsen Edwards, Ethan Happ, Nick Ward, James Palmer Jr. and Tyler Cook tested the NBA draft early entry process. After getting feedback on how to improve, they all decided to return to school to boost their stock. Edwards and Happ are All-America candidates.
5. The Spartans are the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten title, but the pecking order behind them is wide open with teams such as Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue.