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They are exactly what we thought they were, as announced by the Big Ten Network:

Division 1: Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota

Division 2: Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue.

Teams will play eight conference games, with games against all five other teams in their division, one protected cross-division rivalry (Ohio State for U-M, obviously), and two rotating cross-division games. Please note that these divisions only apply to football, and not to other sports. Michigan will play Ohio State at the end of the season.

The rest of the cross-divisional games are: Minnesota-Wisconsin, Penn State-Nebraska, Iowa-Purdue, Northwestern-Illinois, Michigan State-Indiana

Michigan’s 2011 and 2012 in-conference schedules were also released, and are as follows [you can find a pdf of the entire Big Ten schedule here]:

2011 (starting 10/1): Minnesota, at Northwestern, at Michigan State, bye, Purdue, at Iowa, at Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State

2012 (starting 9/29): bye, at Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State, at Nebraska, at Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, at Ohio State

The official statement from the Big Ten:

The winner of each Big Ten division will meet in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game, to be played December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The championship game will determine the Big Ten Champion and the conference’s participant in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

The Big Ten football division alignments will include a division featuring Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin, and a division featuring Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern. Each school will play the other five schools within its division and will also face three teams from the other division, including one cross-division matchup guaranteed on an annual basis. The guaranteed cross-division matchups are Illinois-Northwestern, Indiana-Michigan State, Ohio State-Michigan, Penn State-Nebraska, Purdue-Iowa and Wisconsin-Minnesota. Names for each Big Ten football division will be announced at a later date.

“Over the past several months, Big Ten staff and directors of athletics have met on several occasions to discuss and finalize division alignments,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We focused on competitive equality, traditional rivalries and geography. We considered multiple models and countless permutations in an effort to achieve the most competitively balanced divisions while at the same time respecting our traditions, preserving existing rivalries, and creating opportunities for the establishment and growth of new rivalries. We have listened to the feedback from our institutions, alumni and fans, and while we understand that no final alignments could possibly satisfy all of our constituents, we believe that we have achieved a very exciting result.”

I will refer you to what I wrote earlier, since I am in the middle of an ill-timed fantasy football draft:

You know what? I’ll take it. I know there’s a lot of consternation out there about competitive balance and how this affects The Game (the possibility that the Michigan-Ohio State game in the regular season could be somewhat meaningless, especially if only intra-divisional games count in the Big Ten Standings). I think when it comes down to it, however, The Game will still be The Game, and with how up-and-down college football is from year-to-year, let alone how much things can change in the span of a mere decade, there will always be some imbalance in the divisions one way or the other. Does everyone really expect Northwestern to buck 130 years of tradition and become a perennially decent team, especially if a big-name school tries to lure Pat Fitzgerald away?

I’m just saying, take a step back and look big picture here. We have what should be a tremendous rivalry between two tradition-rich schools with great fanbases in Michigan-Nebraska. The Little Brown Jug will be played for each and every season, like it should be. The already-bitter rivalry with Michigan State should only intensify. The Wolverines will get to duck Penn State and Wisconsin every once in a while, which should ease some of the team’s schedule difficulty. There will be a Big Ten Championship Game at the end of the season, like there should be — who doesn’t love big-time conference title games? Most importantly, The Game is in its rightful place, at the end of the regular season. And finally, unless every other writer claiming to have the inside scoop is astoundingly incorrect, Dennis Dodd is wrong, which makes this all feel very, very right.

On Saturday, the Big House will be full again, and we’ll all be enjoying (and stressing about, of course) the thing we should all be focusing on anyway: The Team, The Team, The Team.

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From Larry Lage of the Associated Press, via Twitter:

We’ll see if that’s really how it plays out tonight, but it sounds like the rumors are true. You know what? I’ll take it. I know there’s a lot of consternation out there about competitive balance and how this affects The Game (the possibility that the Michigan-Ohio State game in the regular season could be somewhat meaningless, especially if only intra-divisional games count in the Big Ten Standings). I think when it comes down to it, however, The Game will still be The Game, and with how up-and-down college football is from year-to-year, let alone how much things can change in the span of a mere decade, there will always be some imbalance in the divisions one way or the other. Does everyone really expect Northwestern to buck 130 years of tradition and become a perennially decent team, especially if a big-name school tries to lure Pat Fitzgerald away?

I’m just saying, take a step back and look big picture here. We have what should be a tremendous rivalry between two tradition-rich schools with great fanbases in Michigan-Nebraska. The Little Brown Jug will be played for each and every season, like it should be. The already-bitter rivalry with Michigan State should only intensify. The Wolverines will get to duck Penn State and Wisconsin every once in a while, which should ease some of the team’s schedule difficulty. There will be a Big Ten Championship Game at the end of the season, like there should be — who doesn’t love big-time conference title games? Most importantly, The Game is in its rightful place, at the end of the regular season. And finally, unless every other writer claiming to have the inside scoop is astoundingly incorrect, Dennis Dodd is wrong, which makes this all feel very, very right.

On Saturday, the Big House will be full again, and we’ll all be enjoying (and stressing about, of course) the thing we should all be focusing on anyway: The Team, The Team, The Team.

The Associated Press is reporting that the Big Ten will announce the divisional alignment for the 2011 season and beyond tonight, and Jeff Rabjohns of the Indianapolis Star says the announcement will air at 7 pm on the Big Ten Network, and the schedules for the 2011 and 2012 seasons will also be revealed. Rumors are flying around about how the divisions will shake out, and they all say the same thing:

Division 1: Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota

Division 2: Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue.

As you can see, Michigan and Ohio State will be in opposite divisions, as expected, but there are conflicting rumors as to whether The Game will take place in its traditional place at the end of the schedule or earlier in the season. Franky, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Big Ten to put Michigan and OSU in opposite divisions and keep The Game where it is, as that really opens up the possibility of having a meaningless regular-season matchup before the conference title game, but we’ll have to wait and see. I’ll have much more on this when the official word comes down tonight.

Eso Akunne lines up a three against Oostende (via Michigan Basketball's Facebook page).

Despite cutting an 18-point halftime deficit down to eight by the start of the fourth quarter, Michigan dropped its third straight game in its European tour, losing 70-55 to Oostende, another Belgian professional squad. Michigan may be finding its rotation, however, as they ran out the same starting five for the third consecutive game: Darius Morris, Stu Douglass, and Matt Vogrich at guard, with Zack Novak and Blake McLimans up front. Here’s the box score from yesterday’s contest:

As you can see, the team struggled once again with connecting inside the arc, shooting just 9-for-26 on two point shots. Freshman forward Jordan Morgan was 4-for-4 on the afternoon, all on two-pointers, meaning the rest of the squad hit just 5-of-22 — not good at all. That 4-13 mark from the free throw line is disconcerting as well. I’ll have a more complete look at the European tour — and its potential implications for the 2010-11 season — after the final contest is played this afternoon. For more, as always, check out UMHoops’ coverage.

John Beilein landed a big commitment today when Columbus (OH) Northland prospect Trey Burke gave his verbal to the Wolverines this afternoon. The 6-1, 170 pound point guard is Rivals.com’s No. 136 overall prospect for the class of 2011, and ESPN has him just inside their top 100 at No. 99. Burke averaged 14.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 60% from the field, 49% from three, and 78% from the free throw line as a junior last year for Northland, a powerhouse basketball school that produced two 2010 Ohio State commits in Jared Sullinger and J.D. Weatherspoon. Here’s ESPN’s latest evaluation of him, from April of this year:

Trey is a scoring point guard. He is good in transtion were he is crafty and scores well in the paint. He is a solid basketball athlete so he can make athletic plays he’s just not a sky walker. Burke is more of a scorer than a shooter though he is a solid shooter. He is creative offensively and can find ways to put the ball in the basket. He has a solid mid range game and has range on his shot to 22 feet. Trey makes solid decisions and is a decent creator. He is a very good defender. He uses his strength well on defense and takes pride in slowing down his opponent. For a point guard he is also a good rebounder. Burke always plays hard and is a very good competitor.

Burke joins shooting guard Carlton Brundidge in Michigan’s class of 2011, leaving one open scholarship in the class, which will almost certainly go to a big man — Detroit Country Day center Amir Williams is likely the team’s top target if they can convince him to stay close to home. For more on Burke’s commitment, head over to UMHoops to check out Dylan’s commitment post.

Stu Douglass looks to inbound the ball against Charleroi (via the Michigan Basketball Facebook page).

The Wolverines dropped their second game of the preseason tour of Europe against a Charleroi team that featured six former Division I college basketball players. Michigan was down 39-30 at halftime and a late third-quarter run put them within 16, but some strong three-point shooting from the Belgian squad (14-for-38) put the game out of reach, and the Wolverines ultimately fell by a 30-point margin. Here’s the box score released by the team:

While a poor day from beyond the arc doomed the Wolverines in their first game against Gent, a combination of poor inside shooting (10-29 on two-point shots), turnovers, and foul trouble made it tough for the squad to get anything going against Charleroi. It is nice to see freshmen Tim Hardaway Jr. (12 points) and Evan Smotrycz (9) once again at or near the top of the team leaders in scoring, but it’s disconcerting to see more inconsistency (and a lot of turnovers) from the more experienced players in the group.

For more on Michigan’s tour through Europe, make sure to keep up with UMHoops, and also check out the team’s official Facebook page, where they are posting video interviews and photos from the trip.

Michigan sets up its offense against Gent (via the Michigan Basketball Facebook page)

The Michigan basketball team kicked off its tour of Europe yesterday with a 69-63 loss to Gent, a professional team from Belgium. The Wolverines led for most of the game, but were done in by some poor shooting (23-66 from the field, 6-26 from three) and two 13-2 runs by the Belgian squad. Zack Novak led the team with 17 points and six rebounds, and freshman Tim Hardaway Jr. added 13 points on 5-7 shooting. The whole box score (recorded unofficially by the team) is below:

If that box score doesn’t look familiar, you haven’t been watching Michigan basketball the past year — with the big runs on both sides, the poor shooting, and the high percentage of attempted threes, this box score could have been taken from any number of games last year. John Beilein released this statement after the game on his new website:

It was a tough outcome tonight (losing 69-63 to Gent) from the standpoint that we had the lead by 10 points or so with about five minutes left in the game. But our kids really had some great moments and had some really good spurts. Down the stretch Gent was just older, more experienced, more physical, they made some big shots and we missed some pretty good looks.

Overall I would give us a C+ for the day. There were some really good things and particularly good play from freshmen Tim Hardaway and Evan Smotrycz, and redshirt freshman Blake McLimans. For the first time with the lights on I thought they did pretty well. It was a tough day shooting for some of our guys but they’ll bounce back. They’ve got great attitudes and games like this will go a long way in helping us to grow as individuals and as a team.

Michigan will get a chance to avenge their defeat to Gent when they play fellow Belgian-league squad Charleroi this afternoon (1 pm EST). I’ll have an update when the team releases a box score, and make sure to check out UMHoops for more coverage of the team’s tour of Europe.