IU Insider Blog: Washington D.C.? Really?

The 2017 Big Ten men's basketball tournament just went from a 4-5 hour drive for most geographically friendly schools to either an all-day drive or a flight. Nine Big Ten schools will have to travel 500 miles or more to Washington D.C. for the 2017 tournament and for seven of them it will be 620 miles or more. This one just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I understand throwing the new schools a bone.

I get the Big Ten's interest in expanding its footprint to the East with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers as conference schools beginning with the 2014-15 season.

But Tuesday's announcement that the Big Ten will play its men's basketball tournament in Washington D.C. in 2017 makes little sense to me at all.

I've heard people in the East say that this decision just shows even more the depth of the Big Ten's commitment to Maryland and Rutgers. I've heard it said that Penn State will benefit from this, too.

But here is what I don't understand.

The Big Ten has boasted the past two seasons about how the Big Ten men's basketball tournament has played to sold out venues in Chicago in 2013 and Indianapolis in 2014.

But what kind of crowd do you realistically think you're going to get in 2017?

I'm sure there will be all kinds of locals on the scene including many alumni. But you're not going to have the same kind of fan following from Big Ten schools that you normally get for the conference tournament. It just won't be economically possible.

The great thing about the conference tournament for the first 17 years has been the proximity to the majority of the schools. Sure, Penn State and Nebraska are the exceptions but they are also the last two schools that have been added to the mix. Having it in Chicago and Indy has always been the perfect sites for fans to be able to drive to the conference tournament.

And that's my main point here – Drivability.

If you live in Madison, it's 147 miles to Chicago and 331 to Indianapolis. Washington D.C.? Try 841.

If you're an Illinois fan living in the greater Champaign area, it's less than a two hour drive to get to either Chicago or Indianapolis. Washington D.C.? It's 693 miles.

How do you think the people in Iowa City feel about this decision? Hawkeye fans can drive from their school to Chicago in 221 miles and to Indianapolis in 361 miles. The latter is a longer drive but you can still make it in roughly six hours. But Washington D.C. is a completely different animal in terms of mileage logged. One-way mileage from Iowa City? 902 miles.

For people in Lincoln, it's going to be a long drive wherever the tournament is held. The drive to Chicago is 520 miles. To Indianapolis it's 638 miles. But Washington D.C.? That trip is 1,202 miles.

Indiana and Purdue fans can't be real happy either. If you're driving from Bloomington to Chicago it's 229. To Indy is just a quick drive up 37. But to Washington D.C. from Bloomington is 623 miles. If you're going from Indianapolis it's 571 miles. If you're driving to D.C. from West Lafayette it's 635 miles.

I understand it's not a long term commitment, at least not in its initial stages. It's one year and it's on the 20th anniversary of the Big Ten Tournament.

I get all of that.

I just wonder what kind of atmosphere it's going to be like to hold the Big Ten men's basketball tournament in Washington D.C.?

Again, from my way of thinking this one just doesn't make good sense.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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