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Ohio State basketball: Chris Holtmann talks unique Big Ten Tournament setup; future scheduling

Ohio State also has a game set with Cincinnati ... You can't go out and play those home and homes with an Arizona. It would be too much for your team ... I believe in playing a challenging non-conference schedule, but I also believe in not beating your ...

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By Bill Landis, COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A recap of what Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann said on Monday night during his weekly radio show on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus. * Holtmann shared a story from Big Ten Media days back in October when league coaches were asked about what they would do in the week off this year between the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The league moved its conference tournament up a week earlier than usual so that it could be played in New York's Madison Square GardenIt begins Feb28 and ends March 4First round games of the NCAA Tournament begins on March 15. Holtmann wasn't asked about his plans back in October, because nobody expected the Buckeyes to be in a position to have a plan. "I did not get asked what the plan would be and that's for obvious reasons," Holtmann said"They did not anticipate this being a situation we would encounterI didn't put a whole lot of thought into until I realized that if we continue to play well that we'd have a reasonable chance to play in the tournament." The Buckeyes have all but clinched a berth in the NCAA Tournament as they sit alone in first place in the Big Ten with four games to play in the regular seasonSo what will Holtmann do? He didn't completely shut down the idea of scrimmaging someone in that week off, but nothing is set yet. "We don't look ahead to games, but obviously that is something that's different with the Big Ten Tournament where it is, and the layoff," he said"I am in these next couple weeks going to pick the brain of guys who have been in a similar situation in the pastGuys from a smaller league with an earlier tournament, what did they do in the layoff? Just to see if there are some things, get really specific about what their schedule was." * Looking to next year, the Big Ten is moving to a 20-game league scheduleOhio State also has a game set with Cincinnati, the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, The Gavitt Tip-off Games against a Big East opponent and the CBS Sports Classic against UCLA in Chicago. Holtmann was asked if the 20-game league schedule limits what he can do with non-conference scheduling. "You're adding two challenging, high-major opponents," he said"Most schools will play 21, 22 maybe 23 -- in some cases less -- high major opponents, and fill the rest with home games (against lower teams)Now you have 20, and it challenges the flexibility of your scheduleYou can't go out and play those home and homes with an ArizonaIt would be too much for your team ..I believe in playing a challenging non-conference schedule, but I also believe in not beating your team up too much before Big Ten play." A schedule that includes 20 Big Ten games, Cincinnati, UCLA, an ACC opponent and a Big East opponent is still pretty goodThe Buckeyes will have that next year and the year after (swap out UCLA for Kentucky in 2019-2020). * Holtmann said he would address senior guard Kam Williams' status later this weekWilliams has missed the last three games while serving a suspension for a violation of team has learned that suspension could be between three and five gamesWilliams' status for Thursday's game at Penn State is unknown. * Some players are dealing with sickness, Holtmann said, but he didn't seem worried that anyone would miss Thursday's game. * C.JJackson left the game against Iowa on Saturday in the second half with crampsHoltmann said Jackson could have come back in the game if neededHe sat about the final nine minutes. * Holtmann said freshman center Kaleb Wesson has the best hands of any big man he's coached"He's got guard tendencies a pretty big body," Holtmann said. * Ohio State's bench has been scoring better as of late, but Holtmann said he was pleased with that group's production even before they combined for 18 points against Purdue and 22 against Iowa last week. "I think our bench for a good month now has done some really good things for us," Holtmann said"We just haven't always had scoringWe have had in my mind, and in the staff's mind, good production(Scoring) has come at various timesThey need to come in ready to attack and understand defensively what we're doing, because that's the identity of our teamThey've done thatAnd because they've done that, their minutes have increased and we've done really well." * Holtmann said for the last five years, he's had a pregame meal of tomato soupin case you were wondering. * Holtmann had a good laugh about the play late against Iowa when freshman forward Kyle Young passed the ball to teammate Andrew Dakich on the benchDakich was standing near the end line, and looked like an open shooter. "We talk about on time, on target passes," Holtmann said"That was an on time, on target pass for a turnover." 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