As you all know by now, the Big Ten is now expanding to 18 teams after admitting both Oregon and Washington into the conference on Friday. We have already talked about how this move affects the Ohio State football program, but how will this affect the Ohio State basketball program?
Adding two new teams to the conference means adding two more teams to play in conference play. That also likely means that there will be fewer home-and-home matchups during Big Ten play because every team needs to play each other at least once.
Oregon is a very good basketball program. They’ve made the Final Four in the last five years. They will become another hard opponent for the Ohio State basketball program to beat. Washington isn’t terrible, but they aren’t nearly the program Oregon is.
The Buckeyes will have to adapt to those schools infringing on their basketball recruiting territories. Unlike the football program, the basketball program no longer has the national reach it once did under Thad Matta. Chris Holtmann certainly gets some really good players from other states, but he doesn’t have the cache Matta did.
Because of that, a coach like Dana Holgerson in Oregon can come into states that have basketball-rich talent in the Midwest and poach some recruits. That limits the talent left over for Ohio State. Holtmann is a great recruiter though, so that’s not the most pressing issue.
The most pressing issue is that Holtmann already has trouble competing in the Big Ten. Adding another great team and another decent team into the mix will not help that problem. It also complicates travel for the team, who might have to go coast-to-coast on a given week during conference play.
The addition of these two programs into the Big Ten hurts the Ohio State basketball program. But no one ever thinks about how conference expansion affects anything other than football. That’s why these moves keep happening.