With a huge weekend, non-conference game against UCLA still to come, Ohio State basketball made official three more monster out-of-conference games over the next three seasons.
Beginning next season, OSU will start a trio of winter, big-time college basketball matchups in a continuation of the past two years’ CBS Sports Classic by taking on Roy Williams and North Carolina in New Orleans. In 2018, the Buckeyes will rematch this weekend’s opponents, the UCLA Bruins. The following Winter, the Bucks will get Kentucky, their opponent in 2015, a second time. The dates and venues for the 2018 and 2019 editions of the classic are yet to be determined.
This makes for a potentially brutal 2017-2018 out-of-conference slate for the Buckeyes, and, assuming the best, head coach Thad Matta. Ohio State and 15 other Nike schools will also participate in a Portland, OR based Phil Knight Invitational. College basketball mainstays like Duke, UNC, Florida, Georgetown, Butler, UConn, Gonzaga, Michigan State will join the likes of OSU, Arkansas, Portland, Portland State, Stanford, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Texas. That’s set to take place in late November of 2017.
While the uptick in degree of difficulty will help OSU’s NCAA tournament chances should they weather the storm, coming up short in multiple big non-conference matchups could leave OSU without a signature road/neutral court win on their resume. If Ohio State’s current season goes belly up, it could make for a tough beginning for whomever’s at the helm of the basketball Buckeyes then — or make what could be one of the final seasons of the Matta era that much more challenging.