Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule

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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.

With candidates backing out left and right, who can Ohio State turn to in coaching search?

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With candidates backing out left and right, who can Ohio State turn to in coaching search?

If Ohio State truly is one of college basketball's top jobs, it sure doesn't seem like it just days into the school's search for a new head coach.

After ending the 13-year tenure of Thad Matta earlier this week, the Buckeyes are getting nothing but public declarations of no interest from one candidate after another.

Xavier head coach Chris Mack tweeted his commitment to the Musketeers on Wednesday. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott did the same thing Thursday, pledging his intention to stay with the Bluejays after Ohio State reportedly offered him the job Wednesday night.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg had to make his own lack of interest known Wednesday night after a report linking him to the Buckeyes started a brief Twitter firestorm.

The possibilities of more candidates have been shot down by various reports. Pie-in-the-sky options like Arizona head coach Sean Miller and Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Bill Donovan have been dismissed. And CBS Sports reported Thursday that former Indiana head coach Tom Crean, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, Providence head coach Ed Cooley and Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams are not in the picture at the moment.

So who the heck can Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith turn to in a search that looks more and more haphazard by the hour?

The latest buzz is around Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, a Columbus native who spent a total of eight seasons as an NBA head coach with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. Brown has recently served as the Warriors' acting coach while Steve Kerr has battled health issues during the NBA playoffs.

Noted NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Thursday that Brown was "on Ohio State's radar" but also that coaching at the college level "doesn't intrigue" Brown.

But the Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday that Brown and Ohio State will meet.

Another option could be currently employed at Ohio State: Matta assistant Chris Jent. Jent was a longtime NBA assistant and served as the Orlando Magic's interim head coach for 18 games during the 2004-05 season. He started his second stint as an Ohio State assistant last season, the first coming from 2011 to 2013. The Columbus Dispatch reported that Jent and Smith would discuss the opening.

Then there's one of the coaches who, along with the aforementioned Mack, seemed like a logical option from the get go. That'd be Butler head coach Chris Holtmann, who's done strong work with the Bulldogs and could be ready for a step up to college hoops' big time.

Things seem to be heading in a lot of different directions at the moment. Best advice is to stay tuned.