Top-seeded Kansas too much for Michigan State as Spartans bounced from NCAA tournament

Top-seeded Kansas too much for Michigan State as Spartans bounced from NCAA tournament

Michigan State trailed top-seeded Kansas by just a point with about 12 minutes to play in Sunday's second-round NCAA tournament game.

By the time the clock ran out, the Spartans were down 20.

The Jayhawks blew out the Spartans over the final 12 minutes in this one, eliminating Tom Izzo's team from the Big Dance with a 90-70 decision in Tulsa.

For Izzo, whose teams typically run deep into March, it's back-to-back eliminations in the tournament's opening weekend.

Kansas looked like it would run away early, breaking away from a 27-all tie with a 13-2 run to grab an 11-point edge late in the first half. But Michigan State managed to get the gap down to just five by halftime thanks to a Joshua Langford 3-pointer and three Miles Bridges free throws to close out the opening 20 minutes, during which the Jayhawks shot 50 percent from the field and the Spartans splashed home five triples.

Kansas' lead was at eight in the early stages of the second half when Michigan State went on an 11-4 run to get within a point at 54-53 with about 12 minutes to go. But the Jayhawks exploded from there, using a 13-4 run to regain a double-digit advantage and then continuing to pour it on. After Michigan State got within one, Kansas held a 36-17 scoring advantage and cruised to a blowout victory and a Sweet Sixteen berth.

The Spartans' freshman stars did come to play, Bridges finishing with a team-high 22 points and Nick Ward and Langford scoring 13 and 10, respectively.

The Jayhawks shot 53.1 percent on the game and got big performances from Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III, who scored 23 and 20 points, respectively.

Michigan State has now failed to reach the Sweet Sixteen in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2007, a fact that shows how perennially successful Izzo's teams have been. The Spartans reached four straight Sweet Sixteens from 2012 to 2015.

Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule


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


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.