The Big Ten is making it known: It's no longer just a Midwestern conference.
Despite the fact that its history and the majority of its member institutions are rooted in the Midwest, the Big Ten is taking big strides to stake its claim to the East Coast. According to several reports, the conference will announce that the 2017 Big Ten Tournament will be played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
This on the heels of a partnership with the Big East announced Monday that will create an annual eight-game series pitting schools from the two conferences against one another.
And, of course, there's the biggest piece of this puzzle. It's just 50-some-odd days (the Big Ten made sure to note this in a Monday press release) until Rutgers and Maryland become member institutions.
Still, even with all that, the move of the Big Ten Tournament to the nation's capital could be seen as the biggest stretch yet. The tournament has only been played in two arenas since its inception in 1998: the United Center and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Indy has hosted nine tournies, Chicago eight, with each slated to host one more before this reported trip to D.C.
With Chicago and Indianapolis, the tournament has always been somewhat centrally located. A Washington tournament would cater seemingly only to fans in the easternmost Big Ten cities (the newest ones). Even middle-of-the-footprint schools like Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana are more than eight hours away via car. From Champaign and Evanston it's more like an 11-hour drive. And don't even think about the 18-hour haul from the conference's westernmost school, Nebraska. Realistically, the Big Ten tourney in D.C. means fans would need to fly to attend, and it could have an effect on who decides to show up.