Ohio State's non-conference basketball schedule lacks the attention-grabbing opponents that leaped off the page upon first glace last season, but there's considerable potential drama in the approach to the Big Ten season that lingers under the radar.
OSU will play North Carolina for a second straight season, this time in the CBS Sports Classic, but the rest of the Buckeyes' non-conference schedule isn't as eye-catching initially as last season, when it also included Kentucky, Villanova and Cincinnati.
Don't get the wrong idea...there's still the chance it will feature a handful of ultra-challenging, highly-intriguing match-ups.
That's because OSU will play host to an as-yet-unnamed opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on either Dec. 1 or 2.
It won't be Carolina, since the Buckeyes already have them on Dec. 19 at a neutral site.
It's also unlikely to be Duke, since OSU could get the Blue Devils over Thanksgiving at the Battle for Atlantis.
That leaves Louisville, Virginia and Syracuse as possibles, perhaps on the road, since those team's pre-season ranking corresponds to Ohio State's likely poll rating and because the Buckeyes don't yet boast a true road game.
Immediately after that ACC opponent, Chris Holtmann's team could truly be tested at Atlantis, where the field includes Duke, Creighton, Memphis, West Virginia and Wichita State.
WVU, coached by former OSU assistant Bob Huggins, defeated the Buckeyes in Cleveland last December and is likely a pre-season Top 10 team.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott interviewed for the Ohio State job and supposedly withdrew from consideration before Holtmann's interview with the Buckeyes. The Blue Jays are also destined for a Top 10 pre-season ranking.
OSU's roster will have undergone an extreme makeover since its 21-10 finish prior to the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Buckeyes are losing leading scorer and rebounder Kaleb Wesson to the NBA, transfers Luther Muhammad, D.J. Carton and Alonzo Gaffney and senior Andre Wesson.
OSU has added two freshmen -- Eugene Brown and Zed Key -- and transfers Abel Porter from Utah State, Seth Towns from Harvard and Jimmy Sotos from Bucknell.
Sotos will redshirt during the coming season.
OSU opens at home on Nov. 11 against Oakland University and has other home dates with Niagara, Akron, Towson, Morehead State and Alabama A&M.
Ohio State non-conference schedule
- 11-5 Exhibition
- 11-11 Oakland
- 11-15 Niagara
- 11-19 Thurs. Akron
- 11-25 thru 11-27 Battle 4 Atlantis (Creighton, Duke, Memphis, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Wichita State, Utah)
- 12-1 or 12-2 Big Ten/ACC Challenge
- 12-9 Towson
- 12-19 North Carolina
- 12-22 Morehead State
- 12-30 Alabama A&M
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