Illini reportedly in the mix for high-profile transfers Charlie Moore and Carlton Bragg Jr.

Illini reportedly in the mix for high-profile transfers Charlie Moore and Carlton Bragg Jr.

After losing two members of what was a top-15 recruiting class, Illinois could finally be getting some good news on the roster-construction front.

According to reports, a pair of high-profile transfers, Cal point guard Charlie Moore and Kansas big man Carlton Bragg Jr., could both wind up with the Illini.

Illinois was described as a likely landing spot for Moore, while Bragg has the Illini in his final five choices.

Both players would have to sit out the 2017-18 season, new head coach Brad Underwood's first, per NCAA transfer rules. But both would have multiple years of eligibility remaining after that, good news for the orange and blue should either or both decide to continue their collegiate careers in Champaign.

Moore, a Chicago native and Morgan Park product, was ranked by Rivals as the No. 55 recruit in the Class of 2016. He picked Cal over Illinois and plenty of other offers, and as a true freshman last season he started 34 games and averaged 12.2 points and 3.5 assists per game.

Last week Moore announced he was transferring from Cal to be close to home and his ailing father.

Bragg, a 6-foot-10 big man from Cleveland, was the No. 21 recruit in the Class of 2015, per Rivals. Bragg also had an offer from Illinois but opted to play for Bill Self instead.

Bragg didn't see too much time as a reserve in Lawrence, averaging 13.8 minutes a game as a sophomore this past season. He put up 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds a game.

The Illini could use an influx of players of any kind after both Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett requested releases from their National Letters of Intent in the wake of the school's coaching change.

With those two incoming freshmen believed to be headed elsewhere and the departures of five graduating players from last season's team, Illinois is down to just nine scholarship players for 2017-18: seven returning players — D.J. Williams, Kipper Nichols, Te'Jon Lucas, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Leron Black, Aaron Jordan and Michael Finke — and two incoming freshmen — Da'Monte Williams and Trent Frazier.

Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule

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USA TODAY

Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule

Conference play could be getting a bit longer in the Big Ten.

According to a Monday report from ESPN's Jeff Goodman, there are talks about expanding the Big Ten conference basketball schedule from 18 games to 20 games.

Commissioner Jim Delany told Goodman that while there hasn't been a vote among the league's coaches yet, there are ongoing discussions about lengthening conference play by a couple of games.

Conference play expanded a decade ago, when the number of league games jumped from 16 to 18 for the 2007-08 season.

In order for there to be enough days in between games for players, an expanded league schedule would mean the beginning of conference play coming earlier in December. Recently, conference play has typically started around New Year's. Of course, there will be a week earlier start to conference play this season with the Big Ten Tournament — at Madison Square Garden in New York — a week earlier than usual, wrapping a full week before Selection Sunday.

Similar moves have been made in football, with the Big Ten starting a nine-game conference slate last fall. It's meant league games in September — a no-no in the past — and this season will feature a conference matchup in the season's first week, when Indiana and Ohio State play on Aug. 31.

Expanding conference play in college basketball would have a similar effect as it has had on schedules in football. With fewer non-conference slots to fill, those games become more important to a team's NCAA tournament resume. It forces teams to schedule more high-profile opponents and eliminate games against small schools that generate little interest during the season's first couple months.

The ACC, a league that often runs neck and neck with the Big Ten in the debate over which is America's top basketball conference, announced it will be moving to a 20-game schedule last July, with that starting in the 2019-20 season.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo shared some thoughts on the subject with Goodman, saying he expects the move to happen.

"I personally see us going to a 20-game schedule," Izzo told Goodman. "I don't think there's any question it's going to happen — and I'm not overly against it."

Ohio State has its new head coach in Butler's Chris Holtmann

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Ohio State has its new head coach in Butler's Chris Holtmann

Ohio State found its next head basketball coach, going to one of Thad Matta's former employers to find the longtime coach's successor.

The school announced Friday morning that Butler head coach Chris Holtmann is the Buckeyes' new head coach.

Holtmann spent the past three seasons as the head coach at Butler, posting a 70-31 record and making NCAA tournament appearances in all three of those seasons, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in March. He was named the Big East Coach of the Year this past season.

Holtmann spent two seasons as an assistant at Ohio under former Illinois head coach John Groce, a former Matta assistant, before serving as the head coach at Gardner-Webb for three seasons. Holtmann left Gardner-Webb for an assistant-coaching job at Butler, though he was quickly promoted to interim head coach and then head coach in Indianapolis.

Holtmann takes over for Matta, who himself was the Butler head coach in the 2000-01 season before becoming the all-time wins leader at Ohio State. Matta's mostly successful tenure was ended earlier this week, when athletics director Gene Smith saw recruiting misses teaming with declining win totals to create a dip in Matta's success.

This week has been dominated by rumors and declarations of lack of interest from numerous candidates and possible candidates for the job. Xavier head coach Chris Mack and Creighton head coach Greg McDermott both made their decisions to stay at their current schools known via social media, and a report linking Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg to the job forced a no-interest comment from Hoiberg, too.

Despite those repeated "no thank yous," though, Ohio State is still seen to be one of the best jobs in college basketball thanks to one of the highest-profile athletics departments and one of the best conferences in the country, providing ample resources.

Recruiting will be a big expectation for Holtmann, as Matta's performance in that area dipped near the end of his tenure. The Buckeyes missed the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons, while Holtmann just took Butler to a No. 4 seed in the Big Dance, the highest in that program's history.