The most recent Ken Pomeroy podcast had a brief discussion of the Big Ten's 20-game conference schedule, which got a thumbs down because Pomeroy prefers nonconference games. Nonconference games connect various conferences and are required for ranking systems to make sense, so Pomeroy's got a point.
But what kind of games are being excised by the expanded conference schedule? I looked at everyone's schedules this year and last and divided them into approximate major and non-major categories. There's some wobble in these distinctions. The A-10, Mountain West, and Big East count. Certain programs (Gonzaga and the top of the American) outside of the top 7 conferences also count. I ended up grudgingly including DePaul because they're in a major conference but left out some incidentally top 100 opponents like Montana and South Dakota State on the assumption that these were buy games that were accidentally good opponents. FWIW, if you were to do it the other way and drop out programs like Pitt while including good mid- and low-majors the number of games worth playing would remain essentially equal.
Anyway, the conclusion is that the extra conferences games have almost universally replaced bad buy games:
|Michigan||5 (LSU, VCU, UNC, UCLA, Texas)||8||5 (Nova, GW, Providence, UNC, SoCar)||6|
|MSU||5 (Duke, UNC, ND, DePaul, UConn)||8||5 (KU, UCLA, Texas, Florida, Louisville||6|
|Wisconsin||6 (Xavier, BU, UCLA, UVA, Temple, Marq)||7||6 (Xavier, Stanford, OK, UVA, NCST, Marq)||5|
|Nebraska||4 (St John's, BC, Creighton, Kansas)||9||5 (Seton Hall, TTech, Clemson, Creighton, OkieSt)||6|
|OSU||5(Gonzaga, Stan, Butler, Clemson, UNC)||8||4 (Cinci, Creighton, Cuse, UCLA)||7|
|Indiana||4 (Seton Hall, Duke, UL, ND)||8||5(Marq, Ark, Duke, UL, Butler)||6|
|Maryland||4(Butler, Bonnies, UNM, Cuse)||9||2(UVA, Seton Hall)||9|
|Purdue||5(Marq, Tenn, AZ, UL, Butler)||8||5 (Davidson, FSU, VT, Texas, ND)||6|
|PSU||4(NCST, GW, Pitt, A&M)||9||4(DePaul, VT, NCST, Bama)||7|
|Northwestern||6(Creighton, La Salle, TTech, GT, DePaul, OK)||7||6(Fresno, La Salle, UT, GT, DePaul, OK)||5|
|Minnesota||4(Prov, Bama, Miami, Ark)||9||5(Utah, A&M, UW, BC, OkieSt)||6|
|Illinois||5( DePaul, Wake, UNLV, NMSU, Mizzou)||8||7(GTown, Zags, ISU, Xavier, ND, UNLV, Mizzou)||4|
|Rutgers||2 (FSU, Seton Hall)||11||3(St John's, Miami, Seton Hall)||7|
|Iowa||3(VT, ISU, CU)||9||4(Oregon, UConn, Pitt, ISU)||7|
There are 28 fewer slots for mid- to low-major buy games and 31 fewer mid-to-low-major matchups. Only two teams (OSU and Maryland) are playing fewer major opponents this year.
There's an argument that the increased slate of conference games reduces opportunities for teams like Bucknell, which was three points away from a win at Maryland last year, to establish their tournament bonafides. That may be happening to some degree but teams like Bucknell, Marshall, Belmont, Wright State, Loyola-Chicago, and Bradley still speckle Big Ten schedules.
It's undeniable that most of the games that aren't being played as a result of the 20-game schedule aren't really worth playing.