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Big Ten releases men's hoops conference schedule

The Big Ten announced its men's basketball conference schedule Wednesday.

Purdue and Indiana begin on the first day of Big Ten play. The Boilermakers head to Ohio State for a 1 p.m. matchup Dec. 31, while the Hoosiers are at Illinois at 3 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN2.

The rivals play each other once this season thanks to a scheduling quirk. IU will head to West Lafayette for a 4 p.m. showdown on Feb. 15. The game will be aired on either ESPN or ESPN2.

IU has seven guaranteed games on the ESPN networks and one game on CBS. The Hoosiers face a tough start to their schedule, with five road games in their first 10 and marquee games against Michigan State (Jan. 4 at home), Wisconsin (Jan. 14 at home), MSU again (Jan. 21 on the road) and Michigan (Feb. 2 at home).

"As far as our conference schedule, there is a reason it is the toughest league in the country," IU coach Tom Crean said in a press release. "You don't look ahead. Each game takes on its own meaning."

The Boilermakers have it tough, too, but the start of their schedule is more manageable.

Purdue starts with the Buckeyes in Columbus and will play at Minnesota on Jan. 5, but then hits a bit of a lull in the schedule. The Boilermakers play a beatable Nebraska team on the road Jan. 12, get Illinois at home Jan. 15, play at Penn State on Jan. 18 and face Northwestern in Evanston on Jan. 21.