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How does Thad Matta leaving Ohio State affect Wisconsin and the Big Ten?

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Our first reactions to Monday’s surprising news out of Columbus.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Thad Matta is out at Ohio State, effective immediately. Obviously, so much hinges on who replaces him. But what is your immediate reaction?

Ryan Mellenthin: My initial reaction to the news is plain and simple: shock, considering earlier today, I heard 2017-18 would be Thad’s final season due to his health. An interesting move for Ohio State to announce he is done immediately. Wonder if this has been a forgone conclusion for a while in Columbus. If it were, I bet they are kicking themselves after letting Dayton coach Archie Miller go to Indiana.

Owen Riese: I too was very surprised to read this. My immediate thought was that it had something to do with his health concerns within the past couple of season. While that sounds like some of the equation, it appears to be motivated by more than that. That’s a very attractive job with a bevy of resources at the disposal of whoever takes over.

Dylan Deich: I attended this beatdown in January and remember wondering when Matta would get OSU back into the Big Ten title conversation. I assumed that it would happen soon, well before Ohio State would consider moving on from Thad. Apparently I was wrong: a national title game berth, .700+ winning percentage, and five Big Ten titles weren’t enough for Matta to see that through. So, yeah, you could say I was surprised and confused.

Any favorite Thad memories?

Ryan: It’s hard to pick out a favorite Thad memory because my favorite thing about him is how his face would always turn the color of their jerseys when playing at the Kohl Center.

Owen: I guess I don’t have so much of a “moment,” but I always enjoyed poking fun of his nose and how red his face would get while coaching. He is a very good coach, though. I respect the hell out of him, just not outwardly very often.

Dylan: It doesn’t directly relate to the Badgers, but I can’t see his face without thinking of how dirty his gum probably is:

tOSU should definitely hire Tom Crean, right?

Ryan: Personally, I am a fan of anyone bringing Tom Crean back into Wisconsin’s life. I love when Wisconsin beats up on Crean almost as much as I love when they beat up on Izzo.

Owen: Dude, hell yeah. I love the Harbaughs and Crean is a good coach except against UW, so I’m down.

Dylan:

Crean

  • Born in the Midwest (Michigan),
  • Has coached in the Big Ten (Indiana)
  • Does annoying stuff (ventures way too far onto the court during games)
  • Look at his f#@&ing face

Matta

  • Born in the Midwest (Illinois)
  • Has coached in the Big Ten (Ohio State)
  • Does annoying stuff (chews gum like Pete Carroll, but with less oral dexterity)
  • Look at his f#@&ing face

Seems like a fit.

How does this affect the Big Ten landscape?

Ryan: With Ohio State’s recent decline, I don’t expect them to turn it all around in the next season or two, but if they are able to pull in a big name, it could shake up the Big Ten. Losing Thad—one of the longer-tenured coaches in the conference—definitely changes the landscape. Not to mention Matta holds a career .740 win percentage, the best in Big Ten history for a coach who spent more than 10 years at a school.

Owen: Well unless they go get a big name, at least initially I think tOSU will be down for a short time but will have a big-time win that will present some optimism moving forward with the new coach.

Dylan: In the short term, I think it throws a little bit of uncertainty into the conference. They’re losing a coach that led a program to five Big Ten titles in 13 seasons and came this close to putting together a national title winner (thanks, Joakim & co.). That won’t be easy to replace. I mean, what if they Gary Andersen this thing? That’s trouble for Ohio State and the Big Ten alike. Honestly, I think the conference at least breaks even—Matta’s success and tOSU’s resources make it a destination. I'm sure they’ll land someone that gets them back to perennial NCAA berths and Big Ten title contention.

Any thoughts on how this affects Wisconsin?

Ryan: It will depend on how well their new coach recruits in Ohio. Wisconsin has had some luck in the Buckeye State recently, bringing in Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown, Khalil Iverson, and D’Mitrik Trice. A stronger recruiting presence in the state from a rival Big Ten school could prove to be trouble for Wisconsin. However, we may not see much of an impact as Wisconsin has been doing a lot of recruiting closer to home more recently. If the Buckeyes were to land a big name, it would likely be several seasons before we see too much of an impact, especially with Wisconsin seemingly solidifying itself as one of the top teams in the conference year after year.

Owen: To be honest, not a ton. Greg Gard will move up a spot in all of the “Ranking the Big Ten’s Coaches” posts. But Wisconsin has for the most part owned tOSU as of late in basketball. If they bring in a big-time recruiter, though, it could be trouble in a couple seasons.

Dylan: I agree with Ryan and Owen here. I’m not sure there is a big Wisconsin impact, at least immediately. If the program tanks, then that’s obviously bad for Wisconsin and the Big Ten as a whole. If not, I don’t think there’s too much that will change for Gardo’s guys unless the Buckeyes start infiltrating the Badger State for talent or begin realizing Ohio kids love thriving in Madison.