MADISON - The days of the Big Ten being rooted as a Midwestern-based conference are now long gone, as the future of the nation's oldest conference is moving east.
With the conference expanding for the second time in three years, as Maryland and Rutgers will join on July 1, the Big Ten is opening a brand-new league office in downtown New York City and has already expanded the presence of men's basketball.
After announcing Monday an annual hoops series between the Big Ten and the Big East from 2015 through 2022, the Big Ten announced Tuesday that the 20th Big Ten basketball tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., the first time the event will not be held in either Chicago or Indianapolis.
"At the time Maryland came in (to the conference in 2012), we set a progressive goal to live in two regions of the country," said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany Tuesday. "Those were are words and we've been working awfully hard the last 18 months to turn words into actions … This is our first opportunity to put a major event the conference sponsors into the eastern corridor."
The decision to expand the conference's postseason tournaments to D.C. and be put in a rotation with Chicago and Indianapolis is another decision by Delany to give the conference a presence in the east. The Verizon Center is a 20,000-seat arena that is home to the Washington Wizards of the NBA and Georgetown of the Big East.
"The Big Ten acknowledged that we should be here and to do this immediately tells us how welcomed we are and how excited we are going into the Big Ten," said Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson.
Moving the conference tournament out of the Midwest has irritated a lot of fan bases, as fans now question whether they will have the means to travel to the nation's capital. Unlike Chicago and Indianapolis where most campuses are less than a six hour drive to the venue, only Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers are within six hours of D.C.
Nebraska fans will have the furthest commute, as they are 1,200 miles away, and will likely have to get used to it, as Delany said "these events will live in the east as well as the Midwest" and that the conference will be on the coast regularly.
"Change is difficult for people," said Delany. "I think it's important to look forward, but also to look in the review mirror to see where you've been and where you want to go."
The Big Ten men's tournament is scheduled to be held at the United Center in Chicago in 2015 and then return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in 2016. Both cities, along with at least one East Coast city, will be involved in an undetermined rotation.
Similar to the current Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Big Ten and the Big East announced it will play eight games against one another on four consecutive days in the first week of the regular season. Four games will be at Big Ten sites and four at Big East sites.
Each Big East team will participate a minimum of six times over the eight years, while Big Ten programs will participate a minimum of four times. Wisconsin went 2-0 against Big East teams last season, opening the season with an 86-75 victory over St. John's at a neutral site and defeated Marquette, 70-64.
Marquette is Wisconsin's oldest nonconference rival, having played 110 times dating back to 1917 and have played every year since the 1958-59 season. It's unclear if the series will be altered because of the event.