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Big Ten Must Remember Roots While Branching Out East

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My May 7 column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) This, my friends, is not your father’s Big Ten.

“We’re thrilled to announce plans to host the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament in Washington, D.C.,” conference commissioner Jim Delany said Tuesday at a press conference in the nation’s capital, during which he unveiled a major geographical shift for his Midwestern-based league.

“We have a great amount of respect for basketball in this region of the country,” Delany went on to explain, “and are pleased that we were able to place this tournament at the Verizon Center at this first possible opportunity in March 2017.”

But are traditional Big Ten fans also pleased with the shake-up? And do they have the right to feel that by holding the conference’s marquee hoops event on the East Coast that Delany is also disrespecting their region of the country?

Well, Big Ten fans have every right to feel whatever they wish – and I know that many of them were less than thrilled to learn that the conference tournament, which has never been held more than a 2 1/2-hour drive from Champaign – will in two years be staged 11 hours due east.

However, I also don’t think that fans should overreact to the Big Ten giving its basketball tournament an East Coast tryout. After all, with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the conference roster on July 1, it only makes sense.

That is, it does as long as the Big Ten is sensible about it.

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