It was early in the morning of June 8, 2017 that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith flew home from Nebraska without a men’s basketball coach. Arriving at John Glenn International Airport after 1 a.m. after having spent several hours meeting with Creighton coach Greg McDermott in Omaha, he was greeted by a Dispatch reporter in the parking lot for an update on the search for a new Ohio State coach.

As he walked to his vehicle, Smith said he was still working through a lengthy list and that the process wasn’t done. Roughly 24 hours later in a hotel room in Dayton, Smith reached an agreement with Chris Holtmann to be Thad Matta’s successor.

Now this winter, those two coaches will go head-to-head during the regular season. According to a CBS Sports report that has since been confirmed by The Dispatch, Ohio State will travel to Creighton to take part in the Gavitt Games.

The Buckeyes last took part in the annual event, which pits Big Ten teams against Big East teams, two seasons ago when they hosted Providence. Not all teams participate in every season.

This adds another known name to Ohio State’s schedule, which will feature 20 conference games for the first time in league history. The Buckeyes will open the season at Cincinnati and have also been linked with Bucknell for a non-conference game. Ohio State will also participate in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge against an as-yet unidentified opponent.

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The Creighton game provides intrigue based on how close the Buckeyes came to hiring McDermott. Accounts differ on whether he was officially offered the Ohio State job, but it seems unlikely that McDermott would not be the coach now if he had wanted the position.

At Big East media day last October at Madison Square Garden in New York, McDermott declined to clarify if he held a job offer from Smith but did address why he didn’t want to leave Creighton.

“When you’re in this profession, you’re either having opportunity to move because you’re not doing well enough and somebody’s going to tell you to move, or if you’re successful other people might be interested in talking to you,” McDermott said. “I’ve been fortunate that we’ve had enough success over the course of my career that I’ve had several opportunities to talk to people, and a lot of them don’t go anywhere, but when those happen it makes you reflect on your current situation and your current life.

“I couldn’t find anything wrong with my current job. I like pulling into my driveway at night. I like going to work in the morning and I’m very happy with the people I work for and the people I work with. I think sometimes you’re looking for something in life that maybe doesn’t exist and I’m extremely happy where I am and that’s why I’m still there.”

Creighton finished 21-12 last season and 10-8 in the Big East, earning a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament and losing a first-round game to Oklahoma State.