Chris Holtmann, in his first season with the Ohio State Buckeyes, is the first Big Ten coach to win his first seven league games in 95 years. He accomplished this feat on Wednesday night, after the Buckeyes defeated the underwhelming Northwestern Wildcats, 71-65.
Holtmann, who replaced Thad Matta during the offseason, is joining some neat, historical company. While Matta, the program’s all-time wins leader, might deserve his fair share of the credit for building the Buckeyes into something special, it is Holtmann who joins only two other Big Ten coaches to accomplish this milestone.
As mentioned, Holtmann is the third Big Ten coach to win his first seven conference games. For clarity, he joins Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (1911-12) and Iowa’s Sam Barry (1922-23) as the only coaches to have ever done such a thing. To put that in some other perspective, when Meanwell did it for the Badgers, the Big Ten was actually called the Big Nine.
This immediate growth under Holtmann is jarring. While most college basketball fanatics realized how great of a coach he is when he was manning the helm for the Butler Bulldogs, few predicted such a meteoric rise for Ohio State under his leadership.
Once, at best, presumed to be fighting for a spot in the NIT, not only are the Buckeyes atop league standings alongside the Purdue Boilermakers, it almost feels like Ohio State is a lock to go dancing in the NCAA Tournament.