After the additions of Louisiana Tech, Grambling and UT Arlington were made public, only three games on Ohio State basketball's non-conference schedule had yet to be released. Land-Grant Holy Land has learned what these games will be, thus completing the Buckeye's pre-Big Ten slate.
Like we previously reported, we can now confirm that Ohio State basketball will face Northern Illinois. That game will be played on Dec. 16, 2015. NIU finished 14-16 last season, with an RPI of 188 and a KenPom ranking of 181. The Huskies have not made the NCAAs since the 1995-1996 season (when they were still playing in the Midwestern Collegiate conference), and have not had a winning record since 2005-2006. A few seasons ago, NIU was flat out one of the worst teams in college basketball, winning a grand total of 19 games from 2010-2013, but with some returning talent, there is some real optimism that they may not be far away from competing in the MAC.
Ohio State will also face South Carolina State, of the MEAC, on Sunday, Dec. 27. The Bulldogs were 11-22 last season, with an official RPI of 321, and a KenPom ranking of 334, near the very bottom of the country. The Bulldogs were one of the worst teams in the country offensively, but were also exceptionally young. The team's top two leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists all return next season. This is not a team likely to jump into the 150s of the RPI, but some improvement is certainly possible.
Finally, Ohio State will play Mercer on Tuesday, Dec 22. Casual basketball fans may remember Mercer as the team to upset the Jarbari Parker-lead Duke squad, and then win the hearts of the nation by dropping a mean Nae Nae. The Bears finished third in the Southern Conference last season, with a 19-16 record. They finished with an RPI of 209 and a KenPom rating of 189.
With four games against power conference caliber squads, a dangerous mid-major (Louisiana Tech), teams that play with a unique style (VMI), and another mid-major with at least a recent history of some success (Mercer), the Buckeyes will get a stiff test before a very difficult Big Ten schedule. With such a young team next season, Ohio State will certainly be battle tested before the NCAAs.
2015-2016 Ohio State basketball schedule
Nov. 15 Mount St. Mary's
Nov. 17 Grambling
Nov. 20 - UT Arlington
Nov. 24 Louisiana Tech
Nov. 27 Memphis (in Miami)
Dec. 1 Virginia
Dec. 5 VMI
Dec. 8 Air Force
Dec. 12 at UConn
Dec. 16 Northern Illinois
Dec. 19 Kentucky (in Brooklyn)
Dec. 22 Mercer
Dec. 27 South Carolina State
Big Ten home single plays
Dates TBA: Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State
Big Ten road single plays
Dates TBA: Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, Nebraska
Big Ten home-and-homes
Dates TBA: Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Northwestern, Michigan State