Why was Rutgers the right fit for the Big Ten? Commissioner Jim Delany provided exhibit No. 100-something Tuesday afternoon in an announced partnership with Madison Square Garden.
The world’s most famous arena welcomes one of the NCAA’s strongest brands starting in 2016 with basketball and hockey double-headers. The premiere event hits in 2018 at the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.
These decisions do not happen overnight, and show yet again why Rutgers is a good fit in Delany’s vision for the Big Ten. Rutgers sits an hour from the Garden, and has plenty of memories in the building dating back to the Big East days.
This is the kind of move Delany had in mind when Rutgers and Maryland received invitations.
The Scarlet Knights are back at the Garden Sunday, even, in a noon tip-off against Manhattan.
“That would be great for us and our fans and our community in the northeast corridor from the Big Ten and our alumni,” said Rutgers basketball coach Eddie Jordan. “… It’s a great thing.”
Rutgers proved it drives the needle on New York television sets during primetime games on both the Big Ten Network this year and ESPN during the Big East years.
New York has the alumni base, and now the events, to become Big Ten country. It starts with the Pinstripe Bowl partnership – hosting Rutgers twice and Penn State once in the five-year history of the game.
Delany wants New York and Washington as Big Ten territories, and a partnership with the Garden is a huge step for the conference.
“This pairing is a natural fit for us as we continue to extend our brand and live in two regions of the country,” Delany said. “The Garden has been the site of countless iconic moments throughout history, and we look forward to showcasing some of the best basketball and hockey programs in the country through this partnership.”
For Rutgers, it means one more opportunity in front of the local crowds. The Scarlet Knights received their B1G invitation for chances like this, and have Sunday’s basketball tip at the Garden and a 2015 game against Army at Yankee Stadium on tap in the Big Apple.