Like the football team, the OSU Men's Hoops team hasn't been afraid to schedule top-flight competition. In the past few years, OSU has faced North Carolina, Duke, and Florida State from the ACC, along with Florida, Kansas, and Butler, all on the road. This year, battles with Duke, Kansas, and Marquette are on the docket, and with other games left to be announced, there may be an intriguing low-major on the list as well.
We have a pretty good idea of the kinds of schedules we can expect from OSU in the future. We know that with the ACC-Big Ten challenge, OSU is going to see a top-flight team every year (and with OSU finishing near the top of the B1G table, that team is usually going to be the likes of Duke or North Carolina). We know that Matta likes to add at least one other premier program, and isn't afraid to send the Buckeyes on the road. At least one in-state team usually makes an appearance, or a regional low-mid major (like Oakland or Valpo)....Although OSU has typically not tried to schedule any of the bigger in-state names, like Xavier, Dayton, or Cincinnati.
With all of that in mind, who would you like to see OSU play in the near future? I have a few ideas:Bringing in Cincinnati or Xavier, while perhaps ideal, doesn't seem particularly likely. There have been rumors of bad blood between OSU and Cincinnati stemming from the Huggy Bear days, and with the UC and Xavier already playing during the regular season each year, they may not be keen to bring in the Buckeyes as well. Ohio State has recently played Wright State and Cleveland State (along with Miami-OH), and most of the MAC and Youngstown St are in fact, terrible. Ohio U has been a great performer in the NCAAs as of late, but they just went through a coaching change, and it remains to be seen how much of their success has be sustained.
That leaves Kent State and Akron as two possible in-state opponents. Both are threats to win 20 games and play in the postseason (if not the actual tournament, then certainly in the NIT), so playing them wouldn't wreck OSU's RPI or schedule strength. Akron returns quite a few key players (like Junior-to-be Guard Alex Abreu, and 7 footer Zeke Marshall) from last year's squad that lost to Ohio by a point in the MAC title game. A matchup with either of the schools at the Q would be great for everybody.
The Buckeyes have played games in Florida (FSU and Florida) the past few years, which in addition to giving players a strong test, can help showcase OSU basketball in fertile recruiting markets. Another potentially untapped market is the state of Texas. OSU hasn't played a bigger Texas name since 2007, when they were murdered by Texas A&M 47-70 in New York City. The Buckeyes are a much better team now, so why not schedule a home and home to prove it? Baylor may be a good fit if OSU wasnt a stiffer test, although I think Houston and SMU are technically in the Big East now, because hey, Dallas is in the NFC East, and so all of this makes perfect sense.
OSU played a home and home with Butler right as they were becoming Butler, a transition away from plucky mid-major and into a perennial high-achieving program. VCU certainly looks a strong candidate to be the next Butler, after locking down their coach to a long term deal, and moving into the more competitive A-10 conference, along with Butler. VCU should be hanging around the top 25 for the next year or two, and would be a great December battle for the Buckeyes.
As far as power programs are concerned, OSU has typically gone to the South or Midwest for early season matchups, so perhaps a trip to the Big East or Pac-12 may be in order. Seeing a floor general like Craft face the unrelenting pressure defense of a Louisville would be an excellent battle, and would prepare the back court for anything Michigan or Wisconsin could throw at them. Pittsburgh is also just a short jaunt down 70, plays a similar physical style to Big 10 conference play. With the Pac-12 down lately, it's been impossible to tell who a strong program might be. UCLA has managed to assemble a roster that on paper, might be able to give the Charlotte Bobcats a run for their money, but with the drama surrounding that program as of late, who knows if they'll be successful? If Ohio State wanted to face a strong Californian program though, that's a good a bet as any.
What about you guys? Who would you like to see Ohio State face off against in basketball?