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Big Ten expands men's basketball schedule, with focus on regional rivalry

New York York – The Big Ten will be moving to a 20-game conference slate for men’s and women’s basketball in 2018-19, the conference announced Thursday at media day at Madison Square Garden.

Previously, the Big Ten men’s hoops teams played 18 games and women’s teams played 16, which will continue for the 2017-18 season. 

"We looked at the place of basketball, not only in the Big Ten but nationally, and really came to a conclusion, which we talked with our coaches, talked with our administrators, that we needed to control the number of quality games," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. "We felt we could add quality games in basketball. We felt we could spread out the games a bit, and therefore there would be a couple games in early December we thought we could experiment over time."

The conference’s new format for men’s basketball consists of teams playing seven opponents twice and six teams once (three away and three home). In-state rivalries like Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue and Illinois-Northwestern will be played twice annually, per the release.

Regional opponents (likely Minnesota-Wisconsin and Minnesota-Iowa) will also be played more frequently.  During a six-year period, regional opponents will play each other 10 times of possible 12 opportunities.

The Gophers only play rival Wisconsin one time twice in the past three seasons, including only in Madison this season.

Mason and Coffey named to All-Big Ten preseason team

NEW YORK – Gophers guards Nate Mason and Amir Coffey are part of the 10-member Big Ten All-Preseason team, announced at Big Ten Media Day Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Mason, a 6-foot-2 senior captain, helped Minnesota to a school-record 16-game turnaround leading the team in scoring (15.2), assists (5.0), steals (1.4), free-throw percentage (80.8) and minutes played (34.5). He was the first player in team history to surpass 500 points and 100 assists in the same season. The Georgia native was also the program’s first All-Big Ten first-team selection since Vincent Grier in 2005.  

The 6-8 Coffey was an all-conference freshman team performer last season, while averaging 12.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He also played the most minutes of any player in conference play last season ( The Hopkins native had the highest scoring game (30 points against St. John's) and scoring average for a U freshman since Kris Humphries in 2003-04.

Michigan State's Miles Bridges was named Big Ten preseason conference player of the year. Below is the full conference all-preseason team:

Justin Jackson, F, Maryland
Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan
Miles Bridges, G/F, Michigan State
Nick Ward, F, Michigan State
Amir Coffey, G, Minnesota
Nate Mason, G, Minnesota
Scottie Lindsey, G/F, Northwestern
Bryant McIntosh, G, Northwestern
Vincent Edwards, F, Purdue
Ethan Happ, F, Wisconsin

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