The Big Ten will announce its much-anticipated, two six-team divisional setup for the 2011-12 season later Wednesday, with traditional football powers Ohio State and Michigan in opposing divisions and new member Nebraska aligned with the Wolverines.
Multiple sources told ESPN.com that the two divisions in the Big Ten will look like:
• Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Minnesota.
• Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Illinois.
The Big Ten issued a press release saying it would announce its divisional alignment at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday. According to sources, the divisions were decided upon Monday.
According to multiple sources, the Big Ten wanted to preserve a number of traditional rivalries such as Michigan-Michigan State, Iowa-Minnesota, Purdue-Indiana and Indiana-Illinois.
The Big Ten is also expected to announce a consistent crossover game in football similar to Ohio State-Michigan that will be played each year. Expect to see longtime rivals Wisconsin and Minnesota playing every season.
In men’s basketball, according to sources, the Big Ten could play a 16-game conference schedule by taking a model similar to those used by the Big 12 and Southeastern conferences. In those leagues, teams play each division opponent twice and then single games — three at home and three on the road — against teams in the opposing division.
However, the Big Ten has not had complaints with its current 18-game conference schedule and could stick with that format and have one 12-team division in basketball.
The Big 12 will finish such a format this season after it loses Nebraska — the Cornhuskers are joining the Big Ten as its 12th member — and possibly Colorado, if the Buffaloes can leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 while paying its exit fee.
If the Big 12 goes to a 10-team conference then it will play a true round-robin schedule of 18 games in 2011-12. The new Pac-12, with the additions of Colorado and Utah, also will likely use this new format of 16 games after playing a true-round robin of 18 games as a 10-team league. The Big Ten played an 18-game conference season and will finish with that unbalanced schedule this season.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.