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Ohio State

Ohio State to play waiting game around tournaments

  • Nebraska-Ohio-St-Basketball-25

    C.J. Jackson and Ohio State will have at least 16 days off after the Big Ten tournament.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Ohio-St-Minnesota-Basketball-12

    Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said the Buckeyes plan to simulate games during their down time.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Nebraska-Ohio-St-Basketball-25

C.J. Jackson and Ohio State will have at least 16 days off after the Big Ten tournament.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

COLUMBUS — Due to an irregular schedule, Ohio State will have an unexpected commodity for this time of year.

As the Big Ten Tournament approaches for OSU and the NCAA Tournament sits just on the horizon, the Buckeyes — and the rest of the Big Ten’s top teams with them — will have plenty of free time around their most important games of the season.

The conference crunched its regular season schedule by a week to accommodate the league tournament, which began Wednesday in New York.

From Feb. 24 through March 15, the No. 13 Buckeyes will have a minimum of 16 days off, and potentially more depending on how they fare at the conference tournament and which regional they draw in the NCAA tournament.

RELATED: NCAA projections have OSU hitting the road

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said Wednesday that he spoke with Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, the former Butler coach who went through a similar waiting period coaching the Bulldogs before the program joined the Big East.

“He gave me some good ideas and some good thoughts from when [Butler was] in the Horizon League and the tournament was around this time of year, and what they did in preparation,” Holtmann said. “I did pick his brain on that and get his thoughts, and he gave me some good ideas.”

Nebraska-Ohio-St-Basketball-25

C.J. Jackson and Ohio State will have at least 16 days off after the Big Ten tournament.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Holtmann gave the team Tuesday off, though the second-seeded Buckeyes returned to the floor Wednesday ahead of their game against either seventh-seeded Penn State or No. 10 seed Northwestern on Friday.

The coaching staff used the off time following last week’s game at Indiana to recover from illness, and Holtmann said a few Buckeyes needed some rest after the 18-game Big Ten schedule.

When it comes to playing well in its upcoming tournaments, however, OSU doesn’t want to rest too much.

“We definitely can’t take too much time off during these breaks because other teams are still playing,” Ohio State point guard C.J. Jackson said. “We just have to physically stay fit, and mentally [sharp] more important than anything because at this point, we’re in as much shape as we’re going to get in for the season.

“Mentally, we have to stay focused and sharp for the next postseason tournament.”

The first-year Ohio State coach said his third team at Gardner-Webb had an extended off period in March, though he’s “never had a break like this.”

Holtmann said that he was not sure how much the down time would be a factor in the postseason — if at all — but the Buckeyes plan to simulate games to the best of their ability in the practices leading up their tournaments.

The rest of Ohio State’s year will be played in single-elimination formats, so the Buckeyes only have one chance to find the right blend of rest and practice.

“We’ll have a plan in place where we’ll give guys ample time, yet we’ll also do a lot of live stuff in practice,” Holtmann said. “And we’ll do some scrimmaging in practice, and significant amounts of scrimmaging where we’ll even up the teams and do a lot of those kind of things.

“I think that’s our best chance of keeping guys sharp.”

Contact Nicholas Piotrowicz at npiotrowicz@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz

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