Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Creighton, Arkansas, and Big Ten headline this weeks Sunday Mailbag

After a week off here is another edition of the Sunday Mailbag. There are some coaches who may be on the hot seat in the Big Ten.

Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann questions a call during the Indiana versus Ohio State men's
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann questions a call during the Indiana versus Ohio State men's / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY
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Which teams in the Big Ten will have new coaches next season?

I watch a lot of Big Ten Basketball. I am a fan of one of the teams in the league and that league is always going to be my choice of basketball. I can confidently say that I know for sure of two coaches who are likely going to be on the chopping block after the season and they are the two obvious choices if you have been paying attention this year. Juwan Howard at Michigan and Chris Holtmann at Ohio State. There are a couple of others to focus on but let’s focus on those two to start.

The Michigan Wolverines entered the season as a team many picked to finish near the top of the top of the league and make the NCAA tournament with ease. I am being nice when I say that Michigan is a mess this year. Coach Howard sat out at the start of the season with some heart problems and assistant coach Phil Martelli had the Wolverines playing pretty well but once Howard came back to the sidelines full time it has not been good. Michigan looks lost, they don’t appear to like or respect Howard and it doesn’t appear that they particularly like each other very much. The Wolverines are another team that doesn’t have much depth and they have all underperformed at the same time. It also doesn’t help that the starting point guard Dug McDaniel is suspended for road games so he can stay home and study to get his grades up. The Wolverines have not been great this season.

Chris Holtmann has had a very up-and-down tenure at Ohio State the first few years they were a consistent contender at the top of the Big Ten like they are used to. Then there was the loss to Oral Roberts in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament and it has been downhill ever since then. The Buckeyes have gotten out of the gates fast and have had some good wins in the non-conference over the years but the Big Ten has been unkind. This year though the Buckeyes have a lot of young talent and had expectations. In reality, they are playing the worst basketball of anyone in the Big Ten and they are inventing new ways to lose. Holtmann doesn’t appear to have many answers right now and that is never a good thing to have when you are on a losing streak.

There are some other guys who may leave for various other reasons. Some say Michigan State will have a new coach because the game has seemed to pass Tom Izzo by and he is struggling in the new NIL and transfer portal market. Michigan State will never fire him but he may retire. Another name I have heard thrown in there is Mike Woodson from Indiana. The Hoosiers probably end up with a winning record overall but they are nowhere near the team the fans expect. Indiana can’t shoot threes, they pound the ball inside to their big men and on the defensive end don’t defend threes. The depth outside of the big three has been bad for the Hoosiers and their closing schedule is brutal this year. I will be interesting to see if Woodson is given another year to turn it around and make the tournament.

One guy that I do not think is getting talked about enough as a guy who may move on is Fran McCaffrey at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are going to struggle to make the NIT this year, they do not have anywhere near their typical prowess from outside the arc, and perhaps the most telling sign that a change may be needed is the drastic drop in attendance at Carver Hawkeye. There are some writers and stories out there about Iowa potentially making the change especially given the attendance situation and the fact that McCaffrey can not win in the NCAA tournament which is making some of the boosters and the NIL collectives restless. Again, Fran has more than earned his stripes at Iowa and should be able to pick when he wants to leave but this year has also been a disaster and it doesn’t look like next year is going to be any better. Keep an eye on the Big Ten during the coaching carousel.