Ohio State firing Chris Holtmann spells relief for Illinois basketball

Illinois v Ohio State
Illinois v Ohio State / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The Chris Holtmann era at Ohio State is now over, and that spells some relief for the Illinois basketball program.

Holtmann was floundering as the head coach of the Buckeyes, currently on pace for another sub-par season. One of those losses this season was to the Illini by 12 points in Columbus.

Losing to Illinois by double-digits at home clearly helped push Holtmann out the door, but it is somewhat of a relief that the Illini won’t have to face him in the Big Ten anymore.

While that win back in late January was fun to watch, Illinois hasn’t had the easiest time taking down Holtmann-led Ohio State teams.

Holtmann had a decent run with the Buckeyes. In seven seasons, he had five 20-win campaigns and went dancing four times. It would have been five if it weren’t for a worldwide pandemic.

In this stretch, Ohio State saw success when playing Illinois. Holtmann finished his run with the Buckeyes going 6-5 against the Illini. This includes starting the matchup 4-1 only to finish out 2-4 in the last six games.

Illinois basketball struggles against Ohio State started way before Chris Holtmann was hired and fired

While Illinois managed to win five out of the 11 games Holtmann was leading the charge for the Buckeyes, the struggles against Ohio State started well before he took over the program.

The struggles honestly started with that big shot by Matt Sylvester back in 2005 to break Illinois’ unbeaten season. While that year was a struggle for Ohio State, that shot set in motion quite the tear when it came to the Illinois vs. Ohio State rivalry.

Sylvester’s shot started a five-game winning streak for the Buckeyes. It wouldn’t be until January 20, 2009, that Illinois would beat Ohio State again. Even then, Sylvester’s shot started a streak where Ohio State won 10 out of the next 12 and 19 out of the next 24 matchups.

For one reason or another, Ohio State has always been a thorn in the side of the Illini. With Holtmann departing, maybe that thorn will be removed and Illinois will go on a streak that mirrors the one Ohio State went on for much of the past two decades.

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